Breast Cancer UK

“Reject use of hazardous DEHP” - Breast Cancer UK supports call on EU Commission

Published 24 Nov 2014

Breast Cancer UK added its voice to a call by the European Environmental Bureau and 54 other human health and environment public interest groups, including doctors, green chemical producers, and health and environmental organisations, for the Commission to reject the continued use of the phthalate, DEHP.

In a letter delivered to the Commission, the organisations explained why they oppose the continued use of plasticizer, DEHP, in PVC plastic, including:

  • DEHP is a substance of very high concern. It is a highly toxic and hormonally active substance;
  • If the Commission were to grant authorisation for the continued use of DEHP in a wide range of PVC products and in recycled PVC plastic, it would fail to the protect public health and the environment, the main objective of the EU’s chemicals regulation (REACH);
  • DEHP is widely used, so there is ongoing exposure;
  • Safer alternatives to DEHP are generally available;

Many phthalates have already been banned in certain applications, such as toys. As an acknowledged toxicant, Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate DEHP is due for phase out in 2015. However, six European companies are requesting permission to continue using it, which would prolong European citizens’ exposure.

After a flawed review process, including inadequate assessment of the benefits and risks of the wide use of the substance of very high concern and key documents not being made public, the Euro­pean Chemicals Agency recommended DEHP’s continued use be approved. The final decision lies with the European Commission – and it must decide by early 2015.

"We support calls for the Commission reject the continued use of DEHP in PVC. To allow it would not only undermine the aims of the REACH system, but raise questions as to whether that system can adequately protect the health of EU citizens and the environment from exposure to hazardous chemicals," said Lynn Ladbrook, Chief Exective, Breast Cancer UK.

Read the letter here.

Read the civil society organisations’ position statement here.

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