Phthalates in PVC Plastics

Section 108 of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 prohibits certain products from containing six specified phthalates. A new ASTM International standard, under the jurisdiction of Committee D20 on Plastics, provides a method for the identification and qualification of these phthalates.

The new standard, D7823, Test Method for Determination of Low Level, Regulated Phthalates in Poly (Vinyl Chloride) Plastics by Thermal Desorption - Gas Chromatography/Mass Chromatography, was developed by Subcommittee D20.70 on Analytical Methods.

"Phthalates are used as plasticizers for a variety of polymers, including rubber and nitrocellulose," says David Owen, technical service specialist, BASF, and a D20 member. Children's toys and child care articles that can be placed in the mouth are among the products covered by D7823 and the CPSIA.

Analytical laboratories, regulatory bodies and manufacturers will all use D7823 to determine whether a product meets the requirements of Section 108 of the CPSIA law. The phthalates covered by the standard are:

  • DBP, 1,2-benzenedicarboxylicacid;
  • BBP, benzyl butyl phthalate;
  • DEHP, bis(2-ethyhexyl) phthalate;
  • DNOP, di(n-dioctyl) phthalate;
  • DINP, 1,2-benzenedicarboxylicacid, di-C8-10-branched alkyl esters; and,
  • DIDP, 1,2-benzenedicarboxylicacid, di-C9-11-branched alkyl esters.

In addition to CPSIA, other regulations on these phthalates include the European Union Directive 2005/84/EC and Japan's Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry Guideline No. 336 (2010).

Subcommittee D20.70 invites participation in its ongoing development of D7823 and other standards. The committee plans on doing a precision and bias interlaboratory study for the thermal desorption gas chromatography/mass spectrometry method described in D7823. The subcommittee will also start on a solvent extraction gas chromatography/mass spectrometry method, as well as create an adjunct GC/MS plasticizer library for the methods. Commercial plasticizer samples for the library would be useful in D20.70's efforts.

To purchase ASTM standards, visit and search by the standard designation, or contact ASTM Sales (phone: 877-909-ASTM;

CONTACT Technical Information: David P. Owen, BASF • Pasadena, Texas • Phone: 281-884-4451 | ASTM Staff: Alyson Fick • Phone: 610-832-9710 | Upcoming Meeting: Nov. 10-13 • November Committee Week • Jacksonville, Fla.

Hexamoll® DINCH® is the non-phthalate plasticizer especially developed for applications with close human contact.

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