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The Science is Clear: Why Manufacturers are Asking EPA to Evaluate High Phthalates

These high phthalates are used to make products that we encounter every day, from flooring to wall coverings, to luggage and sporting equipment. Even pool liners and footwear may contain high phthalates. These chemicals provide durability across a wide range of consumer and industrial products, expanding their longevity.

Our previous blogs have taken a deep dive into the tenets of the 2016 TSCA amendments, most notably the required use of best available science, the weight of scientific evidence, and a transparent systematic review process. These three requirements help ensure thorough and accurate risk and hazard assessments by bringing the highest-quality science to the top and establishing protocols to comprehensively, objectively, transparently, and consistently identify, evaluate, and integrate the evidence.

Would it surprise you to learn that manufacturers of DINP and DIDP are taking the lead on requesting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate these chemicals under TSCA? Consumers deserve to know the risks and hazards of chemicals that they come into contact with every day, and the science consistently demonstrates that high phthalates, DINP and DIDP, are safe in all current uses.

Science Continues to Determine that High Phthalates are Safe

In 2019, the American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) High Phthalates Panel requested that EPA evaluate the risks of DINP and DIDP under the 2016 TSCA amendments. These amendments allow for a transparent, fair and evidence-based risk evaluation on uses of these high phthalates.   ACC’s High Phthalates Panel wants consumers to have faith in the products they encounter every day, and science continues to show that high phthalates, as currently used, are safe.

With more than 30 years of research, high phthalates are one of the most heavily studied chemical families, having been reviewed by a number of government scientific agencies and regulatory bodies across the globe. In fact, over the past six years, regulatory agencies like the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the Australian National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS), and Canada’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and Ministry of Health have put high phthalates through rigorous regulatory review and determined them to be safe as currently used.

Even though high phthalates are found in many consumer products and some people may be exposed to high phthalate products every day, high phthalates don’t migrate out of products easily, nor do they tend to accumulate in our bodies. Data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the last 10 years indicates that, despite the fact that high phthalates are used in many products, exposure is extremely low – significantly lower than levels of concern set by regulatory agencies, and phthalates are rapidly metabolized and eliminated from our bodies.

Canada Finds No Risk

Environment and Climate Change Canada released its Final Screening Assessment for the Phthalates Substance Grouping on December 5, 2020. In this detailed review of the hazards and risks of phthalates, including an assessment of cumulative risk for certain phthalates, Canada concluded that 14 phthalates, including DINP and DIDP, “do not meet the criteria under paragraphs 64(a) or (b) of CEPA as they are not entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity or that constitute or may constitute a danger to the environment on which life depends.”

Additionally, Canada concluded that all 14 phthalates in the Phthalate Substance Grouping “do not meet the criteria under paragraph 64(c) of CEPA as they are not entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health.”

So what does this mean for DINP and DIDP in Canada? It’s simple –

  1. DINP and DIDP current use does not pose a danger to human life or health, according to CEPA.
  2. DINP and DIDP are safe for use by the general Canadian population, including sensitive subpopulations (pregnant women/women of childbearing age, infants, and children).
  3. DINP and DIDP are safe for use without restrictions in existing applications, including use in food packaging.

It is vital for consumers to have faith in the safety of products that they encounter every day, and it’s critical for the TSCA risk evaluation process to provide the most accurate assessment on chemical risks and hazards as possible. The 2016 amendments lay the foundation needed to help ensure that TSCA risk evaluations do just that.  As you can see, the science is quite clear on the safety of high phthalates, and manufacturers fully believe that the TSCA risk evaluation will show the public that these chemicals are safe as currently used. After all, they deserve the same peace of mind as consumers in Canada and the European Union now enjoy regarding safe use of DINP and DIDP. Are you interested in the impact of the TSCA risk evaluation process on other chemicals? Check out the rest of our four-part blog series here: 1,3-butadiene, 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde.

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