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Plastic bottles and toys

Bisphenol A and phthalates

Plastic bottleA variety of chemicals are used in the production of plastics, including bisphenol A (BPA) in the manufacture of rigid polycarbonate drinks bottles and toys, and phthalate esters used as plasticisers. BPA is also added to the inner coating of food cans and water supply pipes.

However, chemicals such as BPA and phthalates have been implicated in certain endocrine-related disorders, and are currently the focus of widespread concern.

This is especially true for products used by babies and young children, and has been reflected in legislatory activity. For example, an EU Directive, 2011/8/EU, now prohibits the use of bisphenol A (BPA) for the manufacture of polycarbonate infant feeding bottles.

Some higher-boiling phthalates, along with other chemicals such as toluene, have also been classified as ‘Substances of Very High Concern’ (SVHCs) under REACH, and will be subject to regulation in that domain.

For further details on how legislation on EDCs and SVHCs may affect your industry, please contact our Material Emissions Specialists.


Substances of very high concern (SVHCs) Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs)

Substances with the following hazard properties may be identified as SVHCs:

• Those in categories 1A or 1B of the list defined as being carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction (CMR substances), according to European Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008.

• Those that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) or very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB) according to REACH (Annex XIII).

• Those identified on a case-by-case basis, for which there is scientific evidence of probable serious effects that cause an equivalent level of concern to CMR or PBT/vPvB substances.

Key SVHCs include: 2-ethoxyethyl acetate, 2-propenamide, 1-methyl-2-pyrrolidinone, anthracene, benzyl butyl phthalate, bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, dibutyl phthalate, diisoheptyl phthalate, 2-ethoxyethanol, 2-methoxyethanol and 1,2,3-trichloropropane.


A wide range of substances, both natural and man-made, are thought to disrupt the action of hormone receptors in humans.

These include dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), brominated flame retardants, certain pesticides, and components of plastics such as bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates.

At low doses, EDCs are believed to be linked to adverse effects in humans, including cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, low semen quality and genital malformations.

As a result, EDCs are an ongoing challenge for the analytical chemist, and the focus of much current research.

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