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Extraction of Phthalates from Polyethylene and Polyvinyl Chloride

October 11, 2017
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Phthalates are used as plasticizers in a wide range of common products and over recent years have garnered a lot of attention due to their potential negative health impacts. These impacts are so concerning that the use of some phthalates have been banned in children’s toys by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The ability to quickly and accurately extract phthalates from plastics such as polyvinyl chloride is advantageous and can help aid in ensuring the safety of the products made of these materials. With its patent pending Q-Cup Technology™ the EDGE™ can extract plastic samples in less than 10 minutes. The proposed method has been found to be faster and more effective than other methods for this application. 




Phthalates have been used since the 1950’s to soften plastics and can be found in products that most people encounter on a daily basis, such as personal care products, vinyl flooring, children’s lunch boxes, backpacks and toys. Even more alarming is that phthalates can be found in many items that young children, who are more prone to put things in their mouths, come in contact with. Phthalates have been described as dangerous chemical toxins and that can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs, and reproductive systems and have been linked to alteration of DNA integrity. Since they are not chemically bound to the plastic, phthalates are continuously being released into the environment and people are exposed through repeated contact. The extraction of phthalates from plastics needs to 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 complexity of the samples and the low melting point of the plastic make it difficult to extract just the analyte of interest. Next, the traditional methods for extraction of phthalates are time consuming and often yield extracts that are cloudy and contain multiple co-extracts, making analysis difficult. Lastly, is the potential for unacceptable levels of carryover from sample to sample.  The EDGE is capable of producing a clean, filtered, and cooled extract that is ready for analysis in less than 10 minutes.  Each 10 minute extraction cycle also includes an efficient dual solvent wash which cleans the system and eliminates risk of carryover.

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