Denmark at the leading edge regarding phthalates

Published 09-04-2013

With a new phthalate strategy, Denmark is maintaining its focus on protecting the environment and the public against phthalates, which among other things can have endocrine disrupting effects and reduce fertility.

Denmark has been very active in protecting the public and the environment against phthalates of concern. In November 2012, Denmark banned the use of four hazardous phthalates in a wide range of consumer products, and Denmark has also made a proposal to ban the four phthalates at EU level. The Danish Minister for the Environment, Ida Auken is now submitting a full phthalate strategy for consultation. The strategy will generate new knowledge about the risk of these substances and it may result in a ban on other hazardous phthalates. 

“With this new strategy, Denmark is once again at the leading edge in this area. It is extremely important to keep track of these substances, which can be found in all types of products, such as shower curtains, cables, vinyl flooring, airbeds and sandals. We still do not know enough about phthalates, but we know that some of them have endocrine disrupting effects and may cause early puberty in girls and deformed genitals in boys,” said Ida Auken.

‘Cocktail effects’ are a problem

Phthalates are a large group of different substances used as softeners in plastic products. Examining phthalates substance by substance is not enough, and therefore the new strategy examines phthalates on the basis of an overall approach.
“It is neither efficient nor enough to introduce legislation on phthalates one by one. With this long-term strategy, we take into account that several phthalates have the same effect on the body, and that we are often exposed to several phthalates at once. In my opinion, considering ‘cocktail effects’ is common sense. After all, if you want to lose weight, you are not only watching what you eat for breakfast, but all your meals,” said Ida Auken.

Ready for more bans

As part of the strategy, the Danish EPA will commence evaluation of the information available about the most common phthalates. And this may very well lead to new bans or other measures if necessary, the Minister for the Environment pledges. She also stresses that not all phthalates are necessarily of concern. 
“If we discover a risk in one or more phthalates during our work, I will start work on proposing an EU ban right away,” said Ida Auken.

The Danish Ministry of the Environment will continuously involve industry, NGOs and other authorities in work to obtain the best possible basis for dealing with phthalates.

This new phthalate strategy was prepared in collaboration with the Danish Ministry of Health, which has contributed knowledge about phthalates in medical devices. The strategy will remain in consultation on the Danish EPA website until 29 April 2013.

Download the strategy (*.pdf)

Further information

  • Tine Lund-Bretlau, Head of Press at the Danish Ministry of the Environment,tlf.: 9136 5852, E-mail: ">
  • Bent Horn Andersen, Danish EPA Chemicals Division, tlf.: 7254 4240, E-mail: ">