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Corporate Overview

The Standard – August 2018

Phthalates and Phthalate Replacement Products

As endocrine-disrupting activity resulting from phthalate exposure gains awareness, regulators are increasing the pressure put on manufacturers to limit usage. A select few phthalates have been banned in the US in children’s products and toys, and advocacy groups are pushing for broader restrictions on phthalates in all consumer goods.1 Researchers have focused on testing for phthalate metabolites, as well as phthalate-replacement compounds that are being utilized in the midst of the bans and pressure from regulatory groups.

Phthalate metabolite investigations date back to the mid-70s, but did not develop a lot of detail until the late 80s with work reported by Phillip Albro of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and others. CIL first started to synthesize phthalate metabolites in 1998, mostly the primary metabolites, but also several of the secondary metabolites of bis(ethylhexyl) phthalate (aka diethylhexyl phthalate or DEHP). These standards were developed when a research group, supervised by John Brock at the Centers for Disease Control, found them as interferences while developing new methods to analyze organochlorine compounds in urinary metabolites, and thought they should be analyzed as well. The metabolites were studied rather than the parent phthalates to avoid the ubiquitous presence of the parent compounds in virtually every blank and control sample as well as evaluate the overall burden.

As traditional phthalate plasticizers are phased out due to concerns of anti-androgenic effects, alternative phthalates that are typically, but not always, longer branched chains, have been introduced. These replacement phthalates may exhibit similar epidemiological characteristics. Focusing on primary and secondary metabolites contracted by the Japan Environment and Children's Study (JECS), CIL has added numerous standards, including related phthalate metabolites, to existing offerings as these replacement phthalates become more prevalent.  

Taking the evolution one step further away from phthalate plasticizers has been the traditional use of replacement backbones, sometimes in conjunction with replacement alkyl chains. So far, these include terephthalates, cyclohexanes, and trimellitates. To date CIL has added numerous primary and secondary metabolite standards of these novel compounds (also contracted by JECS), some of which have never been isolated before. Please look to the Phthalate Product Spotlight for a complete listing of phthalate and phthalate-replacement product standards.

1. Erickson, B. 2015 Regulators and Retailers Raise Pressure on Phthalates,C&EN, Volume 93. Issue 25, 11-15.


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