Cautious backing for phthalate alternatives

Dutch review of plasticiser industry finds marginal environmental benefits from benzoates, citrates as PVC softeners

Shifting from phthalates to alternative softeners in PVC production could reduce environmental and human health impacts, according to a study by Dutch research institute TNO. But the study warns that the phthalate industry is "inflexible" and will resist change because it is "locked in" to current production models.

"One can cautiously state that the use of benzoates, and possibly citrates, instead of phthalates might have some benefits for human health and the environment," the report finds. The conclusion is based on a systematic ranking of all potential PVC softeners incorporating factors such as bioaccumulation and toxicity. It is thought to be among the first attempts to do this.

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