FAQs: Phthalate Laboratory Test Methods

What are the test methods accepted by the Commission for the ban on phthalates?

The two test methods currently approved by the Commission are:

Test Method: CPSC-CH-C1001-09.3 - Standard Operating Procedure for Determination of Phthalates, April, 1, 2010 [PDF]. Note that within this document, several alternative accepted methods are listed.

 

Alternate Phthalates Test Method: GB/T 22048-2008, Toys and Children’s Products – Determination of Phthalate Plasticizers in Polyvinyl Chloride Plastic, issued on June 16, 2008 (“Chinese Test Method”).

 

Where should I purchase standard or certified reference materials for phthalates testing?

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) is working on a certified reference material containing a specified amount of phthalates in polyvinyl chloride (PVC). For liquid standards, there are many reputable dealers offering either phthalates in bulk, or phthalates in solvent

 

My product failed a laboratory test, but phthalates were not purposefully added. Why did it fail the test?

A failed test could indicate contamination from a number of sources and requires a thorough assessment of the manufacturing and shipping processes. For example, contamination could arise from recycled plastics, poorly cleaned manufacturing equipment, or even alternative plasticizers that contain trace amounts of the prohibited phthalates.

 

It is possible that the test is a false positive. Testing lab errors could arise from confusion over plasticizer identification. Operators are reminded that test method CPSC-CH-C1001-09.3 calls for an extensive qualitative identification; this should include a retention time match and a mass spectrum match with a known standard material.

 

DINP and DIDP each have multiple formulations and chemical abstract service (CAS) numbers. Which ones are regulated?

Section 108 of the CPSIA does not distinguish between different formulations or CAS numbers. Therefore, all formulations of DINP and DIDP fall under the interim ban for mouthable children’s products and child care articles. For testing purposes, laboratories should quantify DINP and DIDP with the appropriate formulation. The chromatographic results for the different compound formulations are distinct and should be identifiable by trained personnel.