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Headlines > Regulation & Safety

Denmark bans four phthalates, despite EU decision

By Michelle Yeomans , 29-Aug-2012
Last updated on 29-Aug-2012 at 12:57 GMT

The Danish government has gone ahead and banned four industrial chemicals linked to disrupting the human endocrine system, despite the European Union’s ruling to phase out phthalates.

Minister Ida Auken has announced that the ban will be introduced this autumn in regards to DEHP, DBP, DIBP and BBP phthalates, despite the European's Comission's decision to look into the area and phase out the chemicals by spring 2013.

Online news website EurActiv reported that Auken considers the EU's regulation on the matter as "completely inadequate" and that the Danish government “has enough documentation so we feel now is time for action, it can take a really long time (to implement regultion) so I don't think that Denmark should wait for that when there are such clear [risk] indications in this area."

The Minister is said to be aware of the ban to come in the fall, which could potentially result in the Commission taking legal action against Denmark for taking the decision to go ahead and completely ban phthalates now.

Some phthalates, used to make plastic soft and more flexible have been linked to male sterility and are also being accused of pushing young girls into puberty too early and causing liver cancer in rats.

The EU’s 2006 REACH regulation requires chemical manufacturers to register the 100,000 or so substances currently on the market and submit them for safety screening and subsequent authorisation. Those that are considered to pose an unacceptable threat to human health or the environment may be phased out and eventually replaced.

EC reponse

The European Commission has allegedly sent a detailed statement in regards to the government's decree to Auken, which outlined a disagreement between Denmark and the EU about how REACH should be interpreted.

"Of course I don't hope there'll be a case, but if there will be one then I'm ready for it," Auken told EurActiv, adding that she has academic material as evidence, and that she has consulted the Danish government's specialised Legal Committee which has ensured her she would win an EU court challenge.

The European Commission has said that it will continue to monitor Denmark's developments and take "appropriate action" in this instance.

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