Safer Alternative to Phthalates Discovered

Phthalates are used to make plastics more flexible and are present in everything from food containers, to shampoo and other personal care products, to vinyl siding and shower curtains, to hospital and medical equipment.  The problem is that phthalates migrate and can leach into the food and environment.  As CFL has reported numerous times over the years, scientific studies testing both animals and humans indicate that phthalates–which are known endocrine disruptors–are linked with serious health complications. 


CFL Graphic-phthalate exposure in pregnancy linked to lower child IQ.

This potential health threat (especially to infants and children) may soon be coming to an end; scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz have discovered a safer alternative to phthalates that do not migrate or leach into food and the environment.


Chemists develop safer alternatives to phthalates used in plastics

Phthalates are used in a wide variety of products, but their most widespread use is as plasticizers for PVC, one of the most common types of plastic. After polypropylene and polyethylene, PVC is the third most common plastic polymer and is used to make products such as building materials, furniture, clothing, garden hoses, food packaging, blood-storage containers, and medical devices.


The problem with phthalates is that they leach out of plastics into food, water, and the environment, and there is mounting evidence suggesting that phthalate exposure can lead to a variety of health problems…


CFL Graphic-phthalates and miscarriage


Fortunately, researchers at UC Santa Cruz have now developed safer alternatives to the phthalate plasticizers. Unlike phthalates, the new nonmigratory plasticizers physically can’t leach out.



The next step? To develop versions of the new plasticizers that can be used widely in industry.


Journal Reference:  Chad M. Higa, Andy T. Tek, Rudy J. Wojtecki, Rebecca Braslau. Nonmigratory internal plasticization of poly(vinyl chloride) via pendant triazoles bearing alkyl or polyether esters. Journal of Polymer Science Part A: Polymer Chemistry, 2018; DOI: 10.1002/pola.29205overview