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ECHA Committee Recommends Listing DEHP as SVHC

The European Chemicals Agency's (ECHA) Member State Committee (MSC) unanimously agreed to identify bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) as a substance of very high concern (SVHC) due to its endocrine disrupting properties in the environment. This action is being taken under the European Union's Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical (REACH) Regulation.

Earlier this year Denmark notified ECHA of its intention to propose that DEHP, along with three other phthalates—dibutyl phthalate (DBP), benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), and diisobutyl phthalate (DiBP), be designated as endocrine disruptors. Phthalates are commonly used as plasticizers. The four phthalates are already on the candidate's list and are classified as substances that are toxic to reproduction. As a result, DEHP, DBP, BBP, and DiBP cannot be used in the European Union without authorization after February 15, 2015.

While a majority of the MSC felt that DEHP should also be listed as a SVHC due to its adverse effect to human health, some members of the committee did not agree, noting that this concern is already covered by their existing identification as toxic to reproduction. Denmark withdrew its proposal to identify DBP, BBP, and DiBP as environmental endocrine disruptors.

The next step is the development of an MSC opinion that includes both the majority and minority views, which the Committee will adopt at its February 2015 meeting. The ECHA Secretariat will then submit the MSC opinion on the Danish proposal to the European Commission.

This is not the first time Denmark has proposed restrictions on DEHP, DBP, BBP, and DiBP. In June 2011, Denmark had recommended limiting the exposure in consumer products to the four phthalates. However, ECHA's RAC concluded on June 15, 2012, that the available data did not indicate that there was a risk from combined exposure to the four phthalates in consumer products. And on Dec. 7, 2013, ECHA's SEAC concluded that there was no basis to support the Danish proposal to further restrict the four phthalates, which were already classified. (For more information on the action taken by Denmark in 2011, see the article, Second ECHA Committee Concludes Further Restriction on Phthalates Not Justified.)