Why Phthalates are Dangerous for Children

Phthalates are used as plasticizers in a variety of frequently used products. Recently, light has been shed on the potentially negative health impacts of phthalates. As a result of these concerning impacts, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has banned the use of some phthalates in children’s toys.
Image Credit:Shutterstock/BrunoWeltmann

Image Credit:Shutterstock/BrunoWeltmann

Quickly and accurately extracting phthalates from plastics, for example polyvinyl chloride, is advantageous and can help to ensure that the products made from these materials are safe. The EDGETM uses patent pending Q-Cup TechnologyTM to extract plastic samples in fewer than ten minutes.


Phthalates have been used to soften plastics since the 1950s. Everyday products including vinyl flooring, personal care products, children’s lunch boxes, backpacks, and toys have been known to contain phthalates. Young children are more prone to put things in their mouths and so it is alarming that there may be phthalates in these products.

Phthalates can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive system and as such are considered to be dangerous chemical toxins. It has been suggested that they are linked to the alteration of DNA integrity.

Phthalates are not chemically bound to plastic, which means that they are continuously being released into the environment. People can then become exposed through repeated contact. Extracting phthalates from plastics needs to be simple and quick in order for manufacturers to confidentially release products that meet CPSC safety guidelines.

Extraction of the phthalates from plastics is challenging for a number of reasons. The complexity of the samples and low melting point of the plastic mean that it is difficult to only extract the particle of interest.

The EDGE can produce a filtered, clean and cooled extract that can be ready for analysis within ten minutes. The risk of carryover is eliminated by an efficient dual solvent wash which cleans the system during every ten-minute cycle.


The Q-Cup Technology in the EDGE process combines pressurized fluid extraction and dispersive solid phase extraction. This results in a single instrument that produces efficient and timely extraction. The Q-CupTM sample holder is easy to assemble and possesses a unique open cell concept with a dispersive effect that facilitates rapid extraction and filtration. This results in simple, fast and efficient extraction.

The EDGE Process

Figure 1. The EDGE Process

The EDGE makes it easy to set up a sample preparation. The Q-DiscTM is placed in the Q-Cup base and the two parts are screwed together. A drying agent or sorbent can be added alongside and wet or dry food sample that does not exceed five grams.

The EDGE only utilizes 40 mL of solvent per extraction, including solvent for diffuse extraction and sample rinse. The device may use up to an additional 30 mL of solvent during the system cleaning. The rapid heating of the extraction chamber alongside the diffuse action means that a temperature of 180oC can be achieved in less than two minutes.

Sample is Loaded

The Q-Cup is loaded into the chamber by the auto sampler automatically. A pressurized seal is then created on top of the Q-Cup by the pressure cap.

Solvent is Extracted

Firstly, the solvent is added through the bottom to aid the heat transfer by filling the gap between the chamber and the Q-Cup. Next, the solvent is added through the top of the Q-Cup which wets the sample.

The pressure gap increases as the chamber walls are heated. The solvent is forced to disperse into the sample as the pressure in the gap overcomes the pressure inside the Q-Cup.

Extract is Collected

As soon as the sample reaches the target temperature it is dispensed through the Q-Disc, the cooling coil, and then collected in a vial.

Procedure and Method

Polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride (0.5 grams) was weighed into an assembled Q-Cup that contained a Q-Disc. The Q-Cups and collection vials were then placed into the EDGE removable rack and the rack was put into place on the EDGE.

The One Touch MethodTM for polyethylene and One Touch Method for polyvinyl chloride were used. Extracts were then injected into the Agilent 7890A with a 5975C MSD for analysis adhering to EPA 8270. The Phenomenex ZB-5MSplus 30m, 0.25 mm was used.


Polyethylene CRM-PE001 and polyvinyl chloride CRM-PVC001 were collected from SPEC CertiPrep. Both the EDGE and Soxhlet were used to extract CRMs. A 70/30 mixture of acetone/cyclohexane was used as the extraction and rinse solution for polyethylene. A 50/50 mixture of isopropanol/cyclohexane was used as the extraction and rinse solvent for polyvinyl chloride. Acetone and isopropanol were used to wash the system.

Results and Discussion

Compared to the Soxhlet method, using the Q-Cup Technology for the extraction of phthalates from plastics, the EDGE utilized less solvent for the same results.

Table 1 presents the percentage of recovery of the extraction of phthalates from polyethylene in comparison with the Soxhlet method. Table 2 shows the percentage recovery of the extraction of phthalates from polyvinyl chloride compared to the Soxhlet method.

Extracting phthalates from plastics with EDGE is both accurate and economical, making it a good choice. Methods for sample preparation, extraction and analysis were all based on CPSC-CH-C100-09.1.

Table 1. % recovery data as compared to soxhlet for polyethylene

Phthalate Average Recovery (% Soxhlet)
Bis (2-ethylhexyl) Phthalate 101
Di-n-octyl Phthalate 94


Table 2. % recovery data as compared to soxhlet for polyvinyl chloride

Phthalate Average Recovery (% Soxhlet)
Butylbenzyl Phthlate 76
Diethyl Phthlate 74
Di-n-octyl Phthate 76


About CEM

CEM is a company based on innovation that touches many different industries and scientific disciplines. It helped pioneer the field of microwave chemistry and has long been recognized for its expertise on the subject through publications and awards.

For more than 35 years, CEM has been designing and developing laboratory instruments and scientific methods (both microwave-based and non-microwave technologies) that are used by major companies, prestigious research institutes, and universities around the world.

CEM is the largest provider of microwave laboratory systems worldwide and has sold over 35,000 systems. The company also has the largest portfolio of microwave technology patents worldwide with over 300 patents. It has subsidiaries in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan and distributors in over 50 countries.

Sponsored Content Policy: News-Medical.net publishes articles and related content that may be derived from sources where we have existing commercial relationships, provided such content adds value to the core editorial ethos of News-Medical.Net which is to educate and inform site visitors interested in medical research, science, medical devices and treatments.

Last updated: Apr 11, 2023 at 8:26 AM


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    CEM. (2023, April 11). Why Phthalates are Dangerous for Children. News-Medical. Retrieved on June 04, 2023 from https://www.news-medical.net/whitepaper/20180916/Why-Phthalates-are-Dangerous-for-Children.aspx.

  • MLA

    CEM. "Why Phthalates are Dangerous for Children". News-Medical. 04 June 2023. <https://www.news-medical.net/whitepaper/20180916/Why-Phthalates-are-Dangerous-for-Children.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    CEM. "Why Phthalates are Dangerous for Children". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/whitepaper/20180916/Why-Phthalates-are-Dangerous-for-Children.aspx. (accessed June 04, 2023).

  • Harvard

    CEM. 2023. Why Phthalates are Dangerous for Children. News-Medical, viewed 04 June 2023, https://www.news-medical.net/whitepaper/20180916/Why-Phthalates-are-Dangerous-for-Children.aspx.