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A7.3 Volatile Plasticisers

Figure 7.6 Phthalate structure
  • Phthalate esters are often used as plasticizers in polymer production, particularly to soften PVC (polychloroethene)
  • The molecules are not covalently bonded to the polymer, so high temperatures can release them to the environment
These plasticisers are widely used in products like coatings on pharmaceutical pills, personal care products, medical devices, detergents, packaging, children's toys, waxes, printing inks, textiles, vinyl upholstery, adhesives, floor tiles, food containers and wrappers, cleaning materials, perfume, eye shadow, moisturiser, nail polish, liquid soap, and hair spray.
High doses of plasticisers have been shown to change hormone levels and cause birth defects such as cleft palate. This has led to considerable debate about health risks associated with these compounds.