Extraction of Phthalates from Polyvinyl Chloride

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The EDGE® automated solvent extraction system is the most advanced extraction system available. By combining pressurized fluid extraction and dispersive solid phase extraction, the EDGE is able to drastically reduce the sample preparation time and potential for human error. The result is fast, simple, and efficient extractions. In just 15 minutes phthalates can be extracted from different types of plastics such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This includes sample filtration and cooling as well as system washing.



Phthalates have been described as dangerous chemical toxins that can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive systems and have been linked to alteration of DNA integrity. They have been used since the 1950s to soften plastics and can be found in products that most people encounter on a daily basis including personal care products, vinyl flooring, children’s lunch boxes, backpacks, and toys. Even more alarming is the presence of phthalates in items marketed toward and/or used by young children, who are more prone to put items in their mouths. Since they are not chemically bound to the plastic, phthalates are continuously released into the environment and people are exposed through repeated contact. The extraction of phthalates from plastics must be a quick and simple process so that manufacturers can confidentially release products that meet the safety guidelines of the CPSC.

The extraction of phthalates from plastics is difficult for a number of reasons. First, the low melting point of the plastic makes it difficult to extract. The plastic must be transformed to extract but not melt and reaching that balance is challenging. Second, due to the complexity of samples, the existing extraction methods, including Soxhlet and pressurized fluid extraction both referenced in CPSC-CH-C1001-09.3, often yield extracts that are cloudy and contain multiple co-extracts, making analysis difficult. Third, all extraction methods referenced in CPSC-CH-C1001-09.3 can be time-consuming and require large volumes of solvent. The EDGE is capable of producing a clean, filtered, and cooled extract that is ready for analysis in less than 15 minutes using no more than 50 mL of solvent. Each 15 minute extraction cycle also includes an efficient dual solvent wash which cleans the system and mitigates risk of carryover.