Phthalates are a group of substances used for making PVC plastics soft and smooth. They are used in several kinds of articles, such as linoleum/vinyl flooring, cables, different household accessories, toys, baby equipment, school and office accessories and similar articles. Phthalates can also be found in paints and adhesives.

The substances can leach from materials, like childcare products, and enter the body. Phthalates can enter our bodies through direct contact (e.g. skin) and sometimes indirect contact in the form of food (e.g. through plastic dishes or food packaging).

They are persistent substances (they do not decompose in the environment for a very long period of time), thus enabling their transport on long distances. They also accumulate in living organisms (bioaccumulation), entering the food chain and retaining in tissues.

Phthalates have been detected in analyses of blood, breast milk and urine. Some phthalates are suspected hormone disruptors and can affect the reproductive function.

Some phthalates are suspected of being so harmful that they are banned in all toys and childcare articles, and some are banned in toys and childcare articles which can be placed in the mouth.

The rules on phthalates in toys and childcare articles apply to the phthalates DEHP, DBP, BBP, DINP, DIDP and DNOP.

Table 1.  Six most common phthalates, their main functions in articles containing them and bans

Phthalates Function








Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate; DEHP


Primarily used as softener for PVC


Dolls, shoes, overalls, clothes, medical devices (PVC tubes and infusion bags), furniture, car seat coatings and flooring. Toys and childcare articles containing more than 0.1% (w/w) of these phthalates shall not be placed on the market.
Dibutyl phthalate; DBP


Used as a softener for PVC, polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and rubber. Also used as fixing agent in paints and cosmetics.


Adhesives, caps, car maintaining products, cosmetics, some types of inks and paints, insecticides, food packaging paper, furniture, paints (sometimes they are present in toys as an impurity or as by-product in small quantities).

phthalate; BBP


Used as softener for PVC, polyurethane, polysulphide and acryl-based polymers


Vinyl flooring, caps, adhesives, car products, food conveyor belts, food covering material and artificial leather (low concentrations were found in baby equipment and toys as by-products or impurities; not intentionally added to those products).
Di-‘isononyl’ phthalate; DINP


Primarily used as softener for PVC


Teethers, baby rattles, balls, spoons, toys, gloves, straws, rubber, adhesives, ink, caps, paints and varnishes, food packaging and containers, clothes, shoes and car interiors. Toys and childcare articles which can be placed into the mouth, containing more than 0.1% (w/w) of these phthalates shall not be placed on the market.

Di-‘isodecyl’ phthalate;


Primarily used as softener for PVC


Electric cables, leather car coatings and PVC flooring.


Di-n-octyl phthalate; DNOP

Primarily used as softener for PVC


Floorings, awnings, pool coatings, bottle caps, conveyor belts and garden hoses.

In addition, Law on Chemicals prescribes the right of the consumers to receive the information whether an article contains SVHC (in a concentration greater than 0.1 % weight by weight), and producers, importers and distributors (traders) are obliged to provide the consumer of the article with information sufficient for safe use of the article including, as a minimum, the name of that substance.


Ask in the shop if the article contains SVHCs, before or during the purchase, so that you can make an adequate decision based on the obtained information.

You can make a responsible choice only based on proper information!

Your right to information.