Are all phthalates bad?


The simple answer on this question is NO! If one would ask if all phthalates are safe the answer becomes a bit more complicated. This depends on what kind phthalate plasticizer we are talking about, which application and very important the potential migration of the plasticizer.

Due to REACh phthalate plasticizers like DOP and DBP need to get authorization for any use in future. There are health concerns using these plasticizers, but perhaps the bigger problem is their image. Phthalate plasticizers like DINP and DIDP do have a very different chemical structure and properties but are also phthalates… At the moment we see that some existing concerns about the use of some phthalates are having an impact on all the different phthalate plasticizers. No distinction is being made and phthalates in general are being perceived as bad.

Every application comes with its health concerns. You can imagine that materials used in child toys or blood bags are seen with other eyes than materials used in cables which are put a couple of meters under the ground. This all may seem very logical but in a lot of discussions one crucial point is or overseen or not getting enough attention and that is the potential migration of the plasticizer. If the phthalate plasticizer would not leave (meaning not migrate) the child toy or the blood bag there should not be any reason for concern at all.

In the end nobody wants chemicals to migrate out of materials and potentially enter the human body with all known or perceived risks. One could argue that in sensible applications we should not try to simply look for phthalate free alternatives but for alternatives which are not migrating. This is one of the reasons a product called TOTM is becoming the dominant alternative for DOP in medical applications. Not only because it is a phthalate-free plasticizer but also because it is a non-migrating plasticizer. The product simply stays where it is limiting any migration risk.

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