Hypothesis on endocrine disruption and other health issues

A number of scientific papers have given rise to concern about a possible general reduction in male sperm counts and other reproductive disorders, relating to certain phthalates. It has resulted in a hypothesis that certain phthalates might mimic the natural female hormone oestrogen.

Extensive research ongoing

This has become known as the hormone – or endocrine – disruption theory. Extensive research into endocrine disruption theory is being carried out by the chemical industry and others in Europe, the United States and elsewhere. Phthalates have been implicated as one of a number of possible hormone-mimicking chemicals but they are not the only substances under scrutiny. So far, over 80 man-made products have come under scrutiny along with many naturally occurring substances (phyto-oestrogens) found in plants and vegetables.

Plasticisers have different properties

Plasticisers, including phthalates, are a large and diverse family of chemical substances with different hazard classifications regarding human health. More informations is available at plasticisers.org.

High molecular weight phthalates DINP, DIDP and DPHP

These are the most widely used phthalates in Europe and are not endocrine disruptors.

Low molecular weight phthalates DEHP, DBP, BBP and DIBP

These have all been classified as toxic to reproduction of category 1B with hazard phrase H360 (“May damage fertility or the unborn child”).

The European plasticiser industry is committed to supporting and, where appropriate, commissioning further scientific research to make sure that the current use of phthalates poses no hazard to the health of people or the environment.