By Flo Dubosc
The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has added butyl benzyl phthalate, di-n-butyl phthalate, and di-n-hexyl phthalate to the list of chemicals known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity.
The listing of these chemicals is based on formal identification by the National Toxicology Program’s Center for Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (NTP-CERHR), which found the three chemicals to be reproductive toxicants in its 2003 final report.
Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) (CAS #85-68-7) is used as a plasticizer in plastics primarily in the manufacture of vinyl tiles. It is also used in the manufacture of food conveyor belts, artificial leather, automotive trim, and traffic cones.
Di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP) (CAS #84-74-2) is used as a coalescing aid in latex adhesives, as a plasticizer in cellulose plastics, and as a solvent for dyes.
Di-n-hexyl phthalate (DnHP) (CAS #84-75-3) is used in the making of plastisols that are subsequently used in the manufacture of automobile parts (air filters, battery covers) and dip molded products (tool handles, dishwasher baskets). Commercial phthalate substances containing DnHP may be added to the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) utilized in the manufacture of flooring, canvas tarps, and notebook covers. Substances containing DnHP may also be used in traffic cones, toys, vinyl gloves, weather stripping, flea collars, shoes, and conveyor belts used in food packaging operations.
Analyses of dose-response data to establish the maximum allowable dose levels (MADLs) for the three phthalates have not yet been conducted by OEHHA.
During the past year, legislation was introduced in California to ban certain phthalates in cosmetics and children’s products. Earlier this year, a bill proposing to ban BBP, DBP and Bisphenol A was introduced by Assemblywoman Wilma Chan (D-Oakland), and passed by the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee in April. The bill was set for a hearing in May that was canceled by Chan. More recently, SB 484, which requires cosmetic manufacturers to disclose the use of any chemical known to cause cancer or birth defects passed the legislature and was signed into law in by Gov. Schwarzenegger in October.
Another bill that would have banned the use of two compounds used in cosmetics that have emerged as a health concern, particularly among women of childbearing age, failed to pass the Assembly Health Committee on April. AB 908, authored by Assembly Member Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) would have banned DBP and Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) from cosmetics and personal care products.
The listing of the three chemicals by OEHHA became effective on December 2, 2005.