EU ban harmful chemicals due to their ‘cocktail effects’

Publiceret 20-12-2018

Following a report by the Danish EPA on total daily exposures for two-year-old children, all EU citizens will now no longer be exposed to four endocrine-disrupting plasticisers. This is the first time in history that the EU will ban harmful chemicals due to their cocktail effects.

More than a hundred million EU citizens will no longer be exposed to four endocrine-disrupting plasticisers, so-called phthalates, in daily products such as rainwear, rubber boots, vinyl flooring, bicycle grips, oil cloths, shower curtains and inflatable pools. Denmark raised the issue in 2009 and, has since then been putting pressure on the EU to ban the four phthalates which were some of the substances being in focus in the report on chemicals in the lives of two-year-old children. This ban has now been achieved.

“History has been made and I’m pleased on behalf of all Europeans. We should not be exposed to hazardous chemicals from the products we use every day. This is the first time that regulation will take into consideration that a cocktail of different substances can pose a hazard to the consumer. It’s a pleasure to announce that the ban my predecessors also worked so hard towards, will now be a reality,” says Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, Minister for Environment and Food.

Focus on total exposure
The EU unanimously adopted the ban. Products that are stored indoors or products with which people come into direct contact with may from July 7th, 2020 no longer be placed on the market if they contain the phthalates DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP. The total exposure to a number of different chemical substances with the same effect can pose a risk of adverse effects, even though exposure to a single chemical in a single product does not in itself constitute a risk. This is known as ‘cocktail effects’.

EU members have agreed on the proposed restriction. In future, products such as rainwear, oil cloths, pilates balls, composition leather balls, shower curtains, and vinyl flooring will only be allowed to contain 0.1 percent of the phthalates. However, since at least 5 percent is needed in order for the phthalates to soften the plastic adequately, this is technically a ban.

“Today is a red-letter day for consumer protection. Exposure to the four harmful and endocrine-disrupting phthalates will be much lower thanks to this ban,” says Jakob Ellemann-Jensen.

The proposed restriction was presented based on a proposal prepared by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in collaboration with Denmark.

All four phthalates, DEHP, BBP, DBP and DIBP are endocrine disrupting substances and are classified as toxic to reproduction.

Consumers can be exposed to phthalates via indoor environment (dust), by direct contact with products that contain phthalates and through food.

For further information:
Rune Gleerup, Press Officer, the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food, tel.: +45 9133 4766, email: 
Henrik Søren Larsen, Head of Division, the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food, tel.: +45 2331 4037, email: