Several European texts regulate the use of certain phthalates in consumer goods and in health products, and mainly target phthalates used as plasticizers.
Fourteen phthalates are included in the Annex XIV of the REACH Regulation: Benzyl Butyl Phthalate (BBP), Di(2-EthylHexyl) Phthalate (DEHP), DiButyle Phthalate (DBP), DiIsoButyle Phthalate (DIBP), Diisopentyl phthalate, 1,2-Benzenedicarboxylic acid, di-C6-8-branched alkyl esters, C7-rich, 1,2-Benzenedicarboxylic acid, di-C7-11-branched and linear alkyl esters, 1,2-Benzenedicarboxylic acid, dipentyl ester, branched and linear, Bis(2-methoxyethyl) phthalate, Dipentyl phthalate (DPP), n-pentyl-isopentylphthalate, 1,2-Benzenedicarboxylic acid, dihexyl ester, branched and linear, dihexyl phthalate (DnHP) and 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid, di-C6-10-alkyl esters or mixed decyl and hexyl and octyl diesters with ≥ 0.3% of dihexyl phthalate. This annex lists substances for which authorization is necessary in order to place them on the market of the European Union (regarding uses targeted by the REACH Regulation).
On 23 November 2021, the European Commission published Regulation 2021/2045 amending Annex XIV by adding endocrine disrupting properties to DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP. As a result of these amendments, some previously exempted uses will require authorization:
- medical devices and food contact materials containing DEHP
- mixtures containing either DEHP, BBP, DBP or DIBP at concentrations greater than or equal to 0.1% by weight
- immediate packaging of medicinal products containing DEHP, BBP or DBP
Applications for authorization to use any of these substances in food contact materials, packaging of medicinal products or mixtures (at concentrations above 0.1%) will have to be submitted by 14 June 2023.
For DEHP in medical devices, the deadline is 27 November 2023.
European Sector Directives
For toys and childcare articles, Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation restricts the use of Di-Isononyl Phthalate (DINP), Di-Isodecyl Phthalate (DIDP) and Di-n-Octyl Phthalate (DNOP): toys or childcare articles which can be placed in the mouth by children may not contain more than 0.1% by mass of plasticised material of any of these phthalates as a substance or in mixtures. Furthermore DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP may not be used in toys and childcare articles as substances or in mixtures (individually or in combination) in a concentration equal to or greater than 0.1% by weight of the plasticised material (Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation).
Since July 22, 2019, concentrations of DEHP, DBP, BBP and DIBP in homogeneous materials of electrical and electronic equipments must be less than 0.1% (Directive (EU) 2015/863, known as RoHS Directive). However, the European Commission has issued directives exempting the following uses from authorisation (see Annex III and IV of the RoHS Directive):
- use of DEHP in some rubber components of engine systems (exemption granted until 01/01/2024)
- use of DEHP in plastic components in MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) detector coils (exemption granted until 01/01/2024)
- use of DEHP in ion-selective electrodes applied in point of care analysis of ionic substances present in human body fluids and/or in dialysate fluids (exemption granted until 07/21/2028)
- use of DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP in spare parts recovered from and used for the repair or refurbishment of medical devices (including in vitro diagnostic medical devices, and their accessories) (exemption granted until 07/21/2028)
Some restrictions on the use of phthalates in materials in contact with foodstuffs are defined by Directive 2007/19/EC for DBP, BBP, and for DIDP and DINP (together with phthalic acid, diesters with primary, saturated C8-C10 branched alcohols, more than 60 % C9 and phthalic acid, diesters with primary, saturated C9-C11 alcohols more than 90 % C10).
The European regulations on medical devices (regulation EC n°1272/2008) prescribe that for all phthalates classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction, class 1A or 1B, a labeling is required. In France, the National Assembly adopted Law No.2012-1442 of 24 December 2012 prohibiting the use of tubing containing DEHP in the pediatric, neonatology and maternity activities.
In France, construction and decoration products (including wall, floor and ceiling coatings) may only be placed on the market if their emissions are less than 1 µg/m³ of DEHP and DBP (Arrêté du 30 avril 2009 relatif aux conditions de mise sur le marché des produits de construction et de décoration contenant des substances cancérigènes, mutagènes ou reprotoxiques de catégorie 1 ou 2).
The European Union has prohibited, via European regulation n°1223/2009, the placing on the market of cosmetics containing DBP, DEHP, BBP, DMEP (Bis (methyl glycol) phthalate), the mixture of phthalates in C5 [N-pentyl isopentyl phthalate, di-n-pentyl phthalate, diisopentyl phthalate] (CAS: 84777-06-0) and the mixture of C7-C11 phthalates [Di (heptyl, nonyl, undecyl) phthalate](CAS: 68515-42-4).
Since November 1st, 2020, bis(2-methoxyethyl) phthalate, DiPP, DPP, DnHP and 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid di-C6-8-branched alkylesters, C7-rich cannot be present in textiles, clothing, related accessories and footwear at concentrations higher than 1000 mg/kg (individually or in combination with other phthalates listed in Annex XVII of REACH).