Friday, September 2, 2011

EPA Kicks Off Initiative to Find Alternatives to Phthalates

The kickoff meeting of a partnership between the USEPA and interested parties was held August 24, 2011 in the Washington DC area.  The goal is for EPA and industry to work within the Design for the Environment (DfE) framework to "evaluate phthalates and potential alternatives based on a range of human health and environmental endpoints, and provide this information to stakeholders for informed decision making."

Participants in the kickoff meeting included a variety of stakeholders ranging from manufacturers, state and local regulatory agencies, trade associations, international regulatory bodies, and NGOs. Individual manufactures and users of phthalates present included ExxonMobil, BASF, IBM, Dow Chemical, and others.  It is expected that future activities will include development of a list of existing potential alternatives and an evaluation of the potential environmental and human health effects of those alternatives that seem most viable.  The next meeting of the partnership initiative is will be in October 2001, with early spring 2013 planned for a final report on the project.

An action plan on which this DfE initiative is based was released in December of 2009.  The phthalates identified in the action plan for assessment are:
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
  • Diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP)
  • Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) 
  • Di-n-pentyl phthalate (DnPP) 
  • Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) 
  • Di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP) 
  • Di-isononyl phthalate (DINP) and associated chemical*
  • Di-isodecyl phthalate (DIDP) and associated chemical*
 *each are a mixture of two phthalates

The partnership participants will decide on which substances offer the potential as alternatives.  Collaboration with ongoing reviews by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (due to use of phthalates in children's toys and baby bottles) and the Green Chemistry in Commerce Council will also be part of the review process.

More information the Design for the Environment Program can be found here.

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