bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)

Chemical name: Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate

CAS No. 117-81-7

EINEC No. 204-211-0

Molecular formula: C24H38O4

Molecular weight: 390.6

Synonyms: 1,2-Benzenedicarboxylic acid, bis(2-ethylhexyl) ester; Bis(2-ethylhexyl) 1,2-benzenedicarboxylate; Bis(2-ethylhexyl) o-phthalate; Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate; DEHP; Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate; Di-octyl phthalate; DOP; Phthalic acid dioctyl ester; Phthalic acid, bis(2-ethylhexyl) ester. More

Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) is a general purpose low phthalate plasticiser used across a range of applications. DEHP is also known as di-octyl phthalate (DOP). It is the phthalate ester of the alcohol 2-ethyl hexanol, which is normally manufactured by the dimerisation of butyraldehyde. The butyraldehyde itself is synthesised from propylene. In Western Europe, it represents around 10% of the phthalate market but its use has been progressively declining in the last decade.

As with all other major low phthalates, DEHP was registered under REACH and included in the Authorisation List in February 2011 because of its Reprotoxic 1B classification. This denotes that DEHP will be phased out by 2015 except in those applications in which it is authorised. The main DEHP producer has already declared that they intend to seek authorisation to ensure the continued availability of DEHP for certain applications in the future.

DEHP is particularly important for medical devices such as blood bags and dialysis equipment which are exempt from authorisation under Articles 60(2) and 62(6) of the REACH Regulation EC No 1907/2006


Almost all DEHP is used as a plasticiser to make flexible PVC. It is recognised for its plasticising efficiency, fusion rate and viscosity.

DEHP has been used for more than 50 years in a wide range of products including:

In the European Union, DEHP is not permitted for use in toys and childcare articles or in cosmetics, and is subject to certain restrictions in food contact applications.

Health and Environment

Health: DEHP is readily absorbed and distributed in the body, but is quickly excreted by humans so does not accumulate. Numerous scientific studies have been carried out to investigate whether exposure to DEHP is likely to have any short or long term effects on humans.

It is recognised that some medical patients, such as prematurely born male babies, may be highly exposed to DEHP from certain medical devices. However there is still no conclusive evidence that they could be harmed by such exposure.

Environment: DEHP is not persistent or bioaccumulative and is classified as readily biodegradable. Furthermore, a two-generation fish study has confirmed the overall conclusion that DEHP has no adverse effects on any aquatic organisms via food or water. In addition, no adverse effects have been reported in sediment dwelling organisms which are exposed to levels up to 1,000 times those found in the environment.

A thorough scientific Risk Assessment has been conducted by the European Union authorities to ensure that people are not put at risk through the use of DEHP. As a result, appropriate measures to eliminate the few potential identified risks have already been agreed upon and, in most cases, have already been put in place.

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