Phthalate screening

Measuring plasticizers in polymer products

Many plastics are actually hard and brittle. To positively influence properties and processing, plasticizers are often added to polymers (e.g. PVC). Chemically, these are esters of phthalic acid with various alcohols (phthalates). However, they are suspected of causing serious damage to health. For this reason, their use is strictly regulated in the European Union.

In consumer products, phthalate additions of more than 0.1 percent by weight are prohibited. This is to prevent the substances that are harmful to health from entering the goods and recycling cycle. Nevertheless, higher levels of plasticizers are still frequently found in imported goods. To avoid severe penalties, importers of plastics and plastic products should be extremely prudent - an enormous challenge for companies that usually have no laboratory experience themselves.

How are phthalates traditionally analyzed?

To determine phthalate content, plastics must be analyzed using a coupling of gas chromatography and mass spectrometry (GC/MS) after complex sample preparation. Only very few purchasers of plastics and plastic products own such analytical equipment. Most companies work with external laboratories to obtain reliable information about the plasticizer content of their polymers.

New analysis method saves time and laboratory capacity

Reliable results in record time are achieved by phthalate screening with mobile FTIR spectroscopy. The portable FTIR 4500a analyzer delivers results directly where products are inspected, plastics are delivered or further processed.

The advantages of screening are obvious:

  • No sample preparation
  • Results in seconds
  • High sample throughput
  • No previous scientific knowledge required
  • Full mobility
  • Cost savings

Rapid phthalate screening is extremely efficient. It limits laboratory analyses by GC/MS to really critical samples with phthalate contents close to the legal limit. In-house laboratory personnel are relieved, costs and waiting times for external analyses are saved.

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