EU Parliament Building

European Union to Allow Ongoing use of DEHP


When it comes to green policies, toxic chemical law, and pretty much every other environmentally related topic, Europe is light years ahead of the United States. The European Union (EU) has been at the forefront of sustainable and environmentally friendly policies. However, that record now stands to be blemished by a poor decision regarding the use of a family of chemicals called phthalates.

EU Parliament Building

Phthalates are esters of phthalic acid that are used as plasticizers mainly in PVC plastics (Type 3), increasing their flexibility, transparency and durability. These chemicals have been associated with several health complications including breast cancer and hormone imbalances. As a result, the use of six particular phthalates, DEHP; BBP; DBP; DINP; DIDP; and DNOP, has been restricted to 0.01% by weight in children’s toys both in Europe and in the US.

However, the EU went a step further and during the past few years contemplated the complete phase-out of BBP, DEHP, DIBP and DBP, four of the most common phthalates in use, from every product on their market. This effort was led mainly by Danish Environmental Protection Agency and Swedish Chemicals Agency. Their efforts led to the EU to task the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to evaluate phthalates (among other chemicals) and create a final recommendation on whether or not to enact a complete market ban on phthalates in consumer products. Large European plastic companies, such as Arkema (France), ZAK (Poland) and Deza (Czech Republic), replied with ferocious intensity – demanding that ECHA maintains the status quo. This political battle has intensified in the past months.

Now, the EU set a deadline of February 21 for it’s final ruling on the four phthalates. Two of them, BBP and DIBP, received relatively little backing from the industry and will be phased out completely by the February date. However, DEHP was defended staunchly and the industry pressured ECHA to recommend the continued authorization of DEHP. The proposal by ECHA is to grant certain manufacturers four years for ongoing use of DEHP in PVC production and twelve years for ongoing recycling of PVC.

The final decision on whether or not DEHP will be banned now rests with the European Commission (EC) who has 3 months to take a position. Environmental NGO’s and certain government agencies are working hard to convince the EC to see ECHA’s recommendation as completely not objective and as the result of pressure from the plastic industry. The EU has historically made the right decision when special interests conflicted with the public’s safety. Let’s hope they maintain their good record.

PVC pipe

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) – 2014 Global Strategic Business Report


Global market for Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) is poised to grow at a steady pace driven by improving global economic climate and increased demand for strong, durable and lightweight materials in industries such as electrical, construction, packaging, and automotive. 

The construction industry will continue to be the largest end-use market for PVC, backed by large scale urbanization and increased government focus on developing public infrastructure such as transportation, communication, power, water, and sewage, in emerging countries such as China and India. Urbanization and consumerism are mega growth drivers fuelling PVC consumption in developing countries. With urbanization rate in China still below 50%, the domestic construction sector is a major demand repository for PVC in Asia. 

For more information please click on: 

PVC pipe

Residents Sue National Pipe (PVC) NY


Nearly 50 Endicott, NY residents have banded together in a lawsuit filed last week against National Pipe & Plastics, accusing the manufacturer of having “devastated the neighborhood” where it opened a new plant earlier this year.  The lawsuit claims noise and odors wafting from the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe manufacturing plant at 15 Mills Ave. have created an “ongoing public nuisance” to residents of the West Endicott neighborhood.

Read more.

Human exposure to BPA can come from water bottles and food containers.

EPA Adds 23 Chemicals, Including BPA, to Key List for Scrutiny, Possible Action


On October 23rd, the EPA added 23 chemicals, including BPA, seven phthalates and two flame retardants to a key list of chemicals that may be subject to stricter regulation.

Human exposure to BPA can come from water bottles and food containers.

The chemicals on this list all have properties that make them particularly hazardous, whether they are used in children’s products, have been linked to cancer, or are particularly environmentally persistent.

The EPA also removed 15 chemicals from the list.

Read the full story at Bloomberg News.

PVC pipe

Global PVC Market 2014-2018


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is one of the most widely used plastics across the world. Properties such as lightweight, high mechanical strength, abrasion resistance, and toughness make PVC a widely used material in the Construction, Packaging, Automotive, and Electrical industries.

PVC is widely used in consumer products and building. Image from iplasticsupply.com

PVC is extensively used in many products, such as pipes and fittings, rigid films, rigid plates, cables and wires, flooring, automotive parts, and packaging. It has an excellent cost to performance ratio, and hence, it is very popular among all consumer segments.

For more information please click on:  http://www.researchandmarkets.com/publication/mw88f4j/global_pvc_market_20142018

Photo by Ashley L. Conti | Bangor Daily News

Chemical safety advocacy group protests against LePage in Bangor


Photo by Ashley L. Conti | Bangor Daily News

A 25-foot-long yellow inflatable duck has been drawing attention to chemical regulation in Bangor, Maine. The “Fear the Beard” campaign was launched by members of Prevent Harm, a public health political advocacy group, to protest against Governor Paul LePage’s history of lax chemical regulation. The name of the campaign stems from LePage’s comments in 2011 that the worst possible impacts from BPA would be that some women “may have little beards” – a reference to the chemical’s endocrine-disrupting properties, which may cause effects ranging from cancer to infertility.

“We’re out here today with our little beards [on sticks] to make sure that our next governor will put Maine kids ahead of the chemical industry, not the other way around,” Emma Halas-O’Connor, Prevent Harm advocacy manager, said.

Read more from Nok-Noi Ricker at Bangor Daily News.


This isn’t a trick: Toxic chemicals in Halloween costumes


Parents across the country are stocking up on this year’s hottest costumes for their little ghouls, goblins, and princesses, but some costumes may contain hidden toxic chemicals harmful to our children’s health. I wish I were tricking you.

A new study released today by HealthyStuff.org found elevated levels of toxic chemicals in popular Halloween costumes, accessories and even “trick or treat” bags.  Dangerous chemicals like phthalates, flame retardants, vinyl (PVC) plastic, organotins, and even lead.  

TAKE ACTION: Tell big retailers – our children deserve a safe toxic-free Halloween.

They tested 105 types of Halloween gear for chemicals linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer.  The products were purchased from top national retailers including CVS, Kroger, Party City, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens.

These chemicals have no place in products for our little ones.  For instance they found high levels of flame retardants in “trick or treat” bags, and a toddler Batman costume that contained very high levels of phthalates, and even lead in the lining of the mask. 

We know that big retailers can do better.  In fact the new testing also shows that many Halloween products do not contain dangerous substances, proving that safer products can be made.  

Join us and send a message to retailers today. It’s time they “Mind the Store” and get these toxic chemicals out of products once and for all.


Tips for a Toxic-Free Halloween


Wanna hear something spooky? With one of CHEJ’s favorite holidays, Halloween, right around the corner, we wanted to let you in on the chemical industry’s dirty little tricks.

PVC, one of the most toxic plastic for children’s health and the environment, has scared its way into some of our beloved children’s costumes.  Even scarier is that many vinyl products are laden with harmful phthalates,  endocrine disrupting chemicals banned in toys but widespread in many other vinyl products children come in contact with.  Vinyl products also often release a witches’ brew of toxic chemicals into the air. That’s that new plastic vinyl smell so many of us grew up with.  Who knew it was so scary!

With that in mind, here are some tips for a safer Halloween for your family and friends:

  • Avoid PVC: Shop for PVC-free costumes and masks.  If you’re not sure what the costume is made out of, ask the store or manufacturer whether or not it contains PVC and phthalates.
  • Make your own costume out of safer PVC-free materials!  We bet you can come up with something fun and creative by just diving into your closet.
  • Trade safe costumes with your friends. No need to buy more stuff.
  • Use safer face-paints.

Happy Halloween – and don’t get spooked by the chemical industry this Halloween season!

Chemicals of Concern

Solutions to Hazardous Plasticizers


From Mark Rossi at BizNGO

The dominant movement in the marketplace is to alternative plasticizers to DEHP and other phthalates. Yet this is the less preferred solution to avoiding PVC and plasticizers altogether. Some recent assessments on alternative materials and plasticizers include:

Clean Production Action’s Plastics Scorecard demonstrated the benefits of substituting medical IV bags made from PVC/DEHP with polyolefin bags that require no plasticizers (see figure to the right). The substitution eliminated the need for plasticizers, which are roughly 30% of the weight of an IV bag.

Alternative plasticizers need to be assessed for their hazards. While less preferable than avoiding PVC and plasticizers altogether, if a company can’t avoid PVC, here are two analyses of alternative plasticizers. The Healthy Building Network (HBN) and Green Chemistry and Commerce Council (GC3) used the GreenScreen (GS) to evaluate alternatives to phthalates in building products (HBN) and DEHP in wire and cable (GC3). Here are their findings:

- Two bio-based products that appear to be the least toxic of all the plasticizers it evaluated (Grindsted Soft-n-Safe and Polysorb ID 37) – GS Benchmark (BM) undetermined due to data gaps (HBN)
- DEHT – GS BM 3 (with data gaps) (GC3 & HBN)
- Vegetable oil based blends that vary from GS BM 2 to GS BM 3 (GC3 & HBN)
- DINCH – GS BM 2 (GC3 & HBN)
- Dibenzoate plasticizer – potentially GS BM 1 (while safer than DINP still has significant hazardous properties) (HBN); and

- Polymeric adipate – GS Benchmark 2, 3, or 4 (depending on chemical assessed) (GC3).

Further alternative assessments of phthalates: The U.S. EPA Design for Environment program is in the middle of a project to evaluate alternatives to eight phthalates.


Save SpongeBob Squarepants from the poison plastic!


Are there toxic chemicals in your child’s raincoat?  New testing coordinated by CHEJ found elevated levels of phthalates in a SpongeBob Squarepants vinyl rain poncho, at levels nearly seven times above the federal safety standard.

I recently purchased the SpongeBob Squarepants vinyl rain poncho at Toys R Us’ flagship store in Times Square, NYC and send it off to a lab for testing.

The lab found the SpongeBob vinyl poncho contained 6,600 parts per million (ppm) of the phthalate Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP).   This phthalate is widely considered to be among the most toxic of all phthalates on the market.  The amount in the SpongeBob Squarepants poncho is nearly seven times greater than the level considered safe by the CSPC.  While phthalates have been banned in toys, they remain permitted in products like rain ponchos and children’s school supplies.  Low levels of lead were also detected in the raincoat.

The lab also found the product contained high levels of chlorine, indicating the raincoat is made out of vinyl (PVC) plastic, the most toxic plastic for children’s health. We call it the poison plastic.  Nickelodeon – say it ain’t so!  We love SpongeBob and don’t want him to be toxic to our children’s health.

These chemicals have no place in our children’s products – they have been linked to asthma, developmental and reproductive harm. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time toxic chemicals have been found lurking in children’s raincoats. Last year, we found high levels of phthalates in 75% of school supplies we tested.

The new testing was funded by concerned parents through an innovative crowdfunding campaign CHEJ conducted on Indiegogo. Parents across the country provided the funding that enabled us to do the testing.

Toxic ponchos underscore need for federal chemical reform

The brand new test results were released in late October at the DC Stroller Brigade, which featured parents and children from around the country at a news conference and rally at the federal Capitol. Families then met with their US senators to urge federal reform.  The vinyl ponchos were used at both the press conference and in meetings with US Senators to highlight the problem of unregulated dangerous chemicals in children’s products.

We have the right to know.

The results were also released by our partners at the Environmental Health Strategy Center in Maine, who held a news conference releasing the results to build support for forthcoming Maine legislation that would require disclosure of phthalates in consumer products. The proposed legislation would provide parents the right to know about toxic phthalates in consumer products. Watch a TV segment on their release.

Phthalates also found in vinyl flooring, dumbbells and earphones

In addition to the testing we conducted, our partners at Healthystuff.org recently screened a variety of products for phthalates and also released the data in conjunction with the DC Stroller Brigade. These products were purchased from 9 retailers including the Dollar Tree Stores, Inc., Dunham’s Sports, Home Depot, K-Mart, Lowes, MC Sports, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart. The products range from household, kitchen and office supplies to children’s products and exercise equipment.

They found:

  • 3lb Dumbbells by Empower sold at MC Sports had 41% DEHP;
  • Earphones sold at the Dollar Tree Stores had 30% DEHP and .04% DBP;
  • Royelle Sheffley vinyl flooring by Armstrong sold at Home Depot had 7%  BBP, .01%  DBP, .02% DINP;
  • Sentinel Stone vinyl flooring by Armstrong sold at Home Depot had 7% BBP, .01 % DBP, and 14% DINP.

This comes after yet another new study found phthalates in vinyl flooring linked to asthma. Thankfully safer alternatives are available for homes, schools, and hospitals.

It’s time for a common sense solution!

It doesn’t have to be this way! Toxic chemicals linked to asthma and birth defects have no place in our homes or schools.  Join me and the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Campaign in fighting back against these poison plastic products!


Tell Congress – it’s time for common sense limits on unnecessary toxic chemicals in children’s products!