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The Swedish Chemicals Agency logo

Statistics in brief - Phthalates

Use of phthalates in Sweden

Phthalates are chemical substances used to soften PVC plastic, which in itself is hard. Softened PVC is included in for example cables, floor material, paint, and various household articles. The phthalates DEHP, DBP and BBP may impair fertility and are not allowed to be used in chemical products intended for consumers or in articles for children, such as toys.

Graph. Use of phthalates in Sweden, 1998-2010.

Source: Products Register, Swedish Chemicals Agency.

There are about 50 different phthalates on the Swedish market. Phthalates are divided between long-chained and short-chained compounds. The long-chained phthalates are mostly used as plasticizers in plastic and paint. Articles made of plasticized PVC such as flooring and cables contain long-chained phthalates. The most common phthalates are diisononyl phthalate(DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP) and other long-chained phthalates. Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP) also belongs to this group of phthalates.

The use of dibutyl phthalate has almost ceased in Sweden. This compound and the other short-chained phthalates are mostly used as solvents in paint and glue. 

Phthalates have been evaluated within the EU. DEHP that has been shown to be toxic to reproduction has now stabilized on a lower level. It has been substituted mainly by DINP.