Toxic hormone disrupter approved for use

The REACH Committee has today approved the proposal by the European Commission to grant authorisation to Vinyloop Ferrara, Stena Recycling and Plastic Planet to use the endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) DEHP in recycled soft PVC-containing articles. Scientific studies show that DEHP has serious health impacts, in particular for vulnerable populations such as babies in the womb, young babies and children.

Dolores Romano, EEB Senior Policy Officer Chemicals, said:

Although the Commission’s proposal approved today imposes quite strict conditions on applicants that will make it very difficult for them to reapply, we deeply regret this decision as it not only breaches the REACH Regulation, but also establishes a very negative precedent that compromises upcoming decisions and undermines the aims of REACH to ensure that toxic substances are replaced by safer alternatives.

The proposal approved today imposes strict conditions on these companies in order for them to reapply for authorisation after the review period as it obliges downstream users to make monitoring and biomonitoring information available to ECHA before 31 December 2016.

However, this decision does not conform with the legal provisions of Title VII of REACH, in particular Articles 60, 62 and 64 of REACH as:


  • The risks related to the uses of DEHP are not adequately controlled.
  • There are suitable alternative substances and technologies.
  • The applicants did not demonstrate that the socio-economic benefits of continued use outweigh the risk to human health or the environment.

Notes to editors:

DEHP is a well known toxic substance. DEHP is a phthalate, a member of this group of “gender-bending” chemicals which because of their anti-androgenic/estrogenic properties can cause feminization in males of several species. There is a growing body of evidence that certain phthalates, including DEHP, are implicated in causing breast cancer, testicular cancer, birth malformations in baby boys and infertility. Given that DEHP can act as a hormone disruptor, it is likely that there is no safe level of exposure. Moreover, this chemical is a suspected carcinogen and neuro and immune toxicant, and is associated with neurodevelopmental disorders in children.

DEHP is widely used in everyday consumer products-usually together with other phthalates, (textiles, furniture, shoes, building materials, etc.), as well as in PVC products in the work place (plastisols, paints, work cloths, boots, etc.). Citizens and the environment are continuously exposed to DEHP from multiple sources on a daily basis. DEHP (and its chemical counterparts) is found in PVC articles in high concentrations (10-60% by weight) and because DEHP is not chemically tightly bonded to the plastic, it easily leaches out. Therefore, DEHP is a ubiquitous contaminant that can be found throughout the European environment (air, water -even rainwater – and soil) as well as in the blood and urine of sampled European populations. At particular risk are pregnant women, newborns and children who are subjected to this chemical at key stages of development.

Alternative plasticisers for PVC and alternatives to PVC itself are available on the European market, for the whole range of current DEHP use in substances, materials, processes and technologies. In fact during the ECHA’s public consultation for these applications, companies ranging from suppliers to downstream users provided more than ample information on availability, technical and economic suitability of safer non-DEHP alternatives.

Toxic hormone disrupter approved for use
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