The virtually limitless variety of products that can be made of plastics, unarguably, points to their rising ubiquity in everyday consumer products. However, many of the uses have been drawing considerable flak from across the world owing to the presence of toxic additives. Additives such as plasticizers for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) have attracted groundswell of attention of regulators. Particularly, phthalates, which find abundant use as most common plasticizer in PVC, are chemicals considered very toxic to health as they can easily leach from the plastics into the food and the environment. Hence, researchers have been relentlessly looking for non-toxic alternatives. Researchers at UC Santa Cruz, claimed to have come out with safer alternative to phthalate to be used as plasticizer in improving the flexibility as well longevity of plastics. They claim that the chemicals developed are safe since they are chemically bonded to the PVC, which prevents any leaching.
The findings of the study have been published in the Journal of Polymer Science on September 26, 2018.
Adverse Health Impacts of Phthalates abound and the Chemicals easily Leach into Environments
Evidence on adverse health impacts of phthalates found in a variety of toys and childcare products abound. Of note, some phthalates are also endocrine disruptors, disrupting reproductive and developmental processes in infants and children. In the traditional process of making PVC used in these products, these phthalates never attach chemically to the polymer but are mixed in certain way. This accounts for their easy leaching into the food and water we consume. The researchers claimed that they have come out with ‘nonmigratory’ plasticizers that remain firmly attach to the PVC through chemical bonds. They called their chemical candidates as ‘frog’ and ‘tadpole’ based on chemical structure.
Nonmigratory Plasticizer is Scalable for Industrial Use
The researchers found that the class of viable nonmigratory plasticizer ‘tadpole’ appears potentially more promising and easier to produce than the ‘frog’ and bodes well for the plasticizing strategy. For instance, one of the researchers stated that this variant of the alternatives need fewer steps and intermediates to produce. Also, this plasticizer alternative can be considered easier to scale for industrial applications.