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Phthalate Ousting: Not So Easy But Some Alternatives are Viable

SpecialChem / Oct 5, 2009

EU and USA ban some phthalates as plasticizers, especially for PVCs, the highest outlet for these additives. Other phthalates are not involved and can be used. However it is necessary to find new solutions for immediate and future requirements. Conventional plasticizers are a rich family opening the door to many conventional or innovative opportunities such as ester plasticizers (Adipates, Citrates, Phosphates, Sebacates etc.), Polymeric esters or sustainable additives such as Isosorbide esters, soya derivatives or Hydrogenated phthalate while keeping in mind low molecular weight polymers and reactive plasticizers. After the developers, Isosorbide Diesters, obtained from renewable resources, have excellent plasticizing properties for PVC and represent a non-toxic alternative to the phthalates. The vegetable oils and derivatives are, for example: Castor oil, epoxidized soybean oil, ester based and proprietary products. Another smart alternative is the hydrogenation of a phthalate for soft PVC compounds targeting sensitive applications such as medical devices that have been tested safe with no side effects or characteristics that could be deemed dangerous to humans. Polymeric plasticizers derived from polymeric multifunctional alcohols give long chain molecules whose properties can be determined by the choice of the used alcohols. Molecular weights can be, for example, in a range from 800 up to more than 8000 versus 390 for the DOP. Polymeric rubbers and plastics are also used for PVC or other polymer plasticization. Lastly, PVC plastisols can be modified by means of adding a variety of mono- or poly-functional acrylate monomers and oligomers. It is also essential to consider the simplest solution: softened resin versions without phthalates marketed by several producers and compounders. The issue is, on the one hand to find the right solution achieving the best balance between processing properties, functional characteristics, durability and cost. On the other hand, many of alternative plasticizers should be investigated because relatively little is known about their impact on people or the environment.

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