You are here:

Questions and answers about phthalate plasticisers

Updated FAQ from 7 June 2024

Phthalates are chemical compounds that are mainly used as plasticisers in plastics such as PVC. However, the phthalates are not bound in the respective plastics and can be released from them. Because phthalates were produced and used in large quantities in the past, they can be detected almost everywhere in the environment and as impurities (by contamination) in many foods. Moreover, phthalates and their degradation products are regularly found when investigating urine samples.

Depending on their chemical structure, phthalates can have different harmful effects on health. For example, some affect the hormone system, others the function of the liver. However, these effects only start to occur above certain concentrations. As consumers in Germany and Western Europe only ingest very small amounts of phthalates overall, health effects are not expected. In the past, however, in some cases increased concentrations of phthalates were reported in children.

People mainly ingest phthalates through food, while young children, to a greater extent than adults, are additionally exposed through house dust and articles they put into their mouths.

Different limit values have been set for the various phthalates depending on the area of application in order to protect the health of consumers. In some products, such as toys or food packaging, the use of certain phthalates has been banned or severely restricted for years. Accordingly, both the production of these phthalates in Europe and the intake of phthalates by the population has declined in recent years.



expand all


Date Title Size
Questions and answers about phthalate plasticisers 297.0 KB


Press information

Date Title Keywords
Plasticiser DEHP is ingested mainly through food di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), phthalates , plastic


Cookie Notice

This site only uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. Find out more on how we use cookies in our Data Protection Declaration.