Overview of known plastic packaging-associated chemicals and their hazards

Which hazardous chemicals are associated with plastic packaging?

The use of plastic packaging is increasing globally, causing environmental and human health concerns. In 2015 annual plastic production was 380Mt, of which about 40 per cent was used in packaging, with the majority being used in food packaging.

The 906 substances which are most likely to be associated with plastic packaging have been published on the Data Commons websiteAt least 148 of the 906 chemicals most likely to be associated with plastic packaging were identified as particularly hazardous based on several harmonized hazard data sources, and 35 of the chemicals listed are regarded as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), CHEM Trust reports.

2018 Study Highlights

  • Database of Chemicals associated with Plastic Packaging (CPPdb) is presented.
  • CPPdb contains chemicals used in manufacturing and/or present in final articles.
  • 906 chemicals identified as likely, 3377 chemicals as possibly associated.
  • Hazard data: CLP classifications, EDC, PBT, vPvB identifications explored.
  • Data gaps concerning both the use and toxicity of numerous substances identified.

Abstract

Global plastics production has reached 380 million metric tons in 2015, with around 40% used for packaging. Plastic packaging is diverse and made of multiple polymers and numerous additives, along with other components, such as adhesives or coatings. Further, packaging can contain residues from substances used during manufacturing, such as solvents, along with non-intentionally added substances (NIAS), such as impurities, oligomers, or degradation products. To characterize risks from chemicals potentially released during manufacturing, use, disposal, and/or recycling of packaging, comprehensive information on all chemicals involved is needed. Here, we present a database of Chemicals associated with Plastic Packaging (CPPdb), which includes chemicals used during manufacturing and/or present in final packaging articles. The CPPdb lists 906 chemicals likely associated with plastic packaging and 3377 substances that are possibly associated. Of the 906 chemicals likely associated with plastic packaging, 63 rank highest for human health hazards and 68 for environmental hazards according to the harmonized hazard classifications assigned by the European Chemicals Agency within the Classification, Labeling and Packaging (CLP) regulation implementing the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System (GHS). Further, 7 of the 906 substances are classified in the European Union as persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT), or very persistent, very bioaccumulative (vPvB), and 15 as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC). Thirty-four of the 906 chemicals are also recognized as EDC or potential EDC in the recent EDC report by the United Nations Environment Programme. The identified hazardous chemicals are used in plastics as monomers, intermediates, solvents, surfactants, plasticizers, stabilizers, biocides, flame retardants, accelerators, and colorants, among other functions. Our work was challenged by a lack of transparency and incompleteness of publicly available information on both the use and toxicity of numerous substances. The most hazardous chemicals identified here should be assessed in detail as potential candidates for substitution.

Author: DES Daughter

Activist, blogger and social media addict committed to shedding light on a global health scandal and dedicated to raise DES awareness.

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