Development of test methods to determine phthalates in textiles

The coating of flexible PVC’s is an important industrial activity in the Belgian production of floor coverings, cables, tarpaulins, (car) seats, dashboards, sun visors, clothing and tapes. PVC owes its economic importance to its durability (very high stability), the relatively low costs and large production runs. By nature, PVC is a hard polymer; therefore it is necessary to add a softening agent to obtain a flexible PVC product. Thanks to their excellent properties and large applicability, phthalates are being used in over 85% of all flexible PVC’s. However, the migration of certain phthalates from the PVC matrix result in eco-toxic effects during the use of these products. Hence, the use of six phthalate-based softening agents (DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP and DNOP) is strictly regulated in the EU. In the long run, the use of all phthalates will probably be prohibited. Next to their application in PVC, phthalates are also mixed in plastisol prints, polyester buttons, and polyurethane coatings. The harmfulness of these (phthalate) softening agents has triggered and increased the demand for effective test methods. Therefore, Centexbel desires to acquire scientific knowledge to develop a testing procedure for a quantitative determination of phthalates in all sorts of PVC-coated materials and textiles.

General Objectives

Development and optimisation of
  • an extraction method to determine phthalates in textiles
  • a method to purify the extract
  • an analytical test method to determine phthalates in the purified extract
Project funding:
FOD economie