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JULY 02, 2010

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) staff is currently participating in voluntary standards activities designed to optimize a method to detect and quantify low levels of phthalates in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) products.

Phthalates, a class of chemicals, are commonly used as plasticizers; additives that improve the flexibility of plastics. They may be used in a variety of consumer products, including, toys, floor and wall coverings, household furnishings, building materials, wire and cable insulation, footwear, rainwear, and automobile interiors. Phthalates also are used as solvents and/or plasticizers in paints, inks, adhesives, sealants, air fresheners, and scented products.

There are a variety of individual types of phthalates. The toxicity of phthalates for humans is still under study. Some phthalates have been shown to cause cancer, liver toxicity, kidney toxicity, or reproductive problems in experimental animals. Congress placed six specific phthalates under either a permanent or interim ban in certain children’s toys and child care articles in the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA). The Commission has convened a Chronic Hazard Advisory Panel (CHAP) to consider the possible human health risks from exposure to phthalates and phthalate substitutes, as required by the CPSIA.

CPSC staff has been involved with a workgroup on phthalates, WK25759 of the ASTM committee D20, since 2009. The workgroup is looking to ease the difficulty of analyzing small concentrations of phthalates (~0.1%) using existing and emerging techniques, along with cataloguing alternative plasticizers that could interfere with the analysis.

Additional Information

CPSC Staff Reports, Memoranda and Contracts:

Contact ASTM

  • For additional information on WK2579, New Standard Determination of Low Levels of Phthalates in Poly(Vinyl Chloride)products, contact Len Morrissey at or ASTM International at

Contact CPSC

Report an unsafe product