Claims that DEP, DBP and DIBP are linked to miscarriage are not supported by robust science - association does not mean causation

Brussels, 11 September - In recent days, media outlets have reported about a study, conducted by the University on Peking, linking a higher exposure to some phthalates to a potential increased risk of miscarriages in women.  Despite the study focusing on just three very specific substances, claiming association but not causation for DEP, DIBP and DBP, many of these reports have also inaccurately linked all phthalates to a number of health concerns. Contrary to the statements of the authors of the study DEP has not shown reproductive effects in animal studies and therefore the reported result is inconsistent with animal data.

The European Council for Plasticisers and Intermediates is committed to the safe and sustainable use of plasticisers and has expressed its concern regarding these types of generalization about phthalates and plasticisers which does a disservice to consumers (creating unnecessary concern), as well as to regulators, industry and other stakeholders who are working to ensure the sound regulation and safe use of plasticisers.

Plasticisers represent a very large number of substances, each with its own specific composition, effects, performance/applications and regulatory status. Just like any other chemical in Europe, the three phthalates plasticisers analysed in the study are regulated under the EU chemicals regulation REACH which allows their use in specific applications under well-defined conditions. Moreover, DiBP was phased-out of the European market as of 21 February 2015.

In addition, the Chinese study only suggests an association between higher levels of these three phthalate (DEP, DIBP, DBP) metabolites and miscarriages. The authors acknowledge that the issue requires further research and does not prove causality. Therefore it is not scientifically sound to conclude that these three phthalates cause an increased risk of miscarriage.

“ECPI fully supports a robust science-based approach as the guiding principle for chemical regulation and communication” said Stéphane Content, manager of ECPI. “Flexible PVC products made with plasticisers bring enormous benefits to citizens, including health and sustainability benefits, and represent an essential enabler for technological innovation. In public and media debates, scientific rigour and factual accuracy are essential to ensure consumer safety. Scaremongering by media to create a news story benefits no one, it only creates unfounded fears” he concluded.