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Reprotoxic Bis(2-ethylhexhyl) phthalate (DEHP) should not be authorised for the production of soft PVC articles from recycled PVC waste as proposed by the European Commission, said Environment MEPs on Tuesday in a non-binding resolution. MEPs point to the serious nature of the adverse effects that can be caused by DEHP.

The draft resolution, tabled by Pavel Poc (S&D, CZ), Kateřina Konečná (GUE/NGL, CZ) and Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA, NL) calls on the European Commission to reject the application for authorisation, which, if agreed to by Member states, would authorise DEHP for the formulation of recycled soft PVC containing DEHP in compounds and dry-blends and the industrial use of recycled soft PVC containing DEHP in polymer processing by calendaring, extrusion, compression and injection moulding to produce PVC articles.


Health concerns


MEPs are concerned that the applicants did not demonstrate that the risks to workers' health were adequately controlled, and point to the serious nature of the adverse effects that can be caused by DEHP. They also stress that the applicants did not show that the socio-economic benefits arising from the use of the substance would outweigh its risks.


Precautionary principle


MEPs furthermore highlight that the REACH regulation is underpinned by the precautionary principle, and that the broad scope of the authorisation would largely revert the substitution of DEHP as intended by its inclusion in Annex XIV of REACH. DEHP is included in Annex XIV of the REACH regulation for being toxic to reproduction, and was among the first compounds supposed to be phased out under the regulation.


In addition, MEPs stress that the European Chemicals Agency's (ECHA) Member State Committee (MSC) unanimously acknowledged that there is scientific evidence on the endocrine disrupting activity for DEHP for the environment. Moreover, the European Commission itself proposed to identify DEHP also as an endocrine disrupter for human health in October 2015, a process that is still ongoing.


Background


Bis(2-ethylhexhyl) phthalate (DEHP) is a member of the class of phthalates which are used as plasticisers (additives that increase the plasticity or fluidity of a material).


DEHP has been known to adversely affect the endocrine system of mammals, primarily through in vivo findings on reduced foetal testosterone and down-regulation of certain genes. Exposure to DEHP during sensitive time windows of development may cause irreversible developmental programming effects, leading to severe effects on development and reproduction, the resolution says. 


Next steps


The draft resolution will be put to a vote by the full House during the 23-26 November plenary session in Strasbourg. Member states still have to vote on the draft implementing act, by qualified majority.