Sep 12 - 18, 2011

There are many major chemicals used to make plastic resins that pose serious risks to public health and safety. Many of the chemicals used in large volumes to produce plastics are highly toxic. Some chemicals, like benzene and vinyl chloride are known to cause cancer in humans. Many tend to be gases and liquid hydrocarbons, which readily vaporize and pollute the air. Many are flammable and explosive. The plastic resins are inflammable and have contributed to numerous chemical accidents.

Plasticizers are materials of low volatility added to polymers to enhance its flexibility, resiliency, and melt flow. Its benefits include greater impact resistance, softness, and depressed brittle point.

Most plasticizers are high boiling organic liquids. Plasticizers function by reducing the glass transition temperature of the plastic to a point at which it will be used in an actual application. This results in a decrease in brittleness at service conditions.

One of the major criteria in selecting a plasticizer is compatibility with the resin to which it is added. Primary plasticizers have generally good compatibility with their resins, and secondary plasticizers have partial compatibility and must be used in conjunction with a primary plasticizer. The plasticizer and polymer should have similar polarity to produce compatibility. The end use of plasticized resin must also be a criterion in selecting a plasticizer.

Phthalate plasticizers are under attack over concerns regarding their perceived potential for long-term health impacts.

In response to these concerns, brand owners are pressured to offer solutions that are compliant with these regulations or eliminate altogether the use of phthalate plasticizers in the manufacture of their products. Manufacturers need a reliable source of viable alternatives to service their customers.

Plasticizers are used in vinyl to soften the final product, increasing its flexibility without sacrificing durability characteristics.

Of the many types of plasticizers that exist, use of phthalate ester plasticizers has grown extensively since the 1950's as the use of flexible vinyl escalated in consumer products.

The use of these plasticizers has recently been challenged by concerns over the potential long-term health impact of these materials. While there is an ongoing debate as to whether or not there is sufficient scientific evidence supporting the restriction of their use, the government has taken the precautionary stance to limit their use in certain applications.


It is impossible to manufacture plastic sheets, film, tubing and flexible PVC without the additions of plasticizers.

Plasticizers are a form of internal lubricant added to plastics to improve flexibility, resiliency, and melt flow. There are 500 different kinds and most are liquid.

Plasticizers are mix-in-between molecules. The space required for the plasticizer forces the molecules to move farther apart. The greater distance between chains, plus the lubricating action of the plasticizer, allows the chains to move more freely, reducing chain entanglement, lowering the melt temperature and significantly reducing physical properties.

The more plasticizers that are added to plastics, the more flexibility is achieved. Some PVC plastisols are composed of 50 to 60 per cent plasticizers and PVC accounts for 80 per cent of all plasticizer consumption with cellulose, ABS, polystyrene also using a large share.

One side effect of lower cost plasticizers in PVC is their thermal instability. For example, PVC car tops, shower curtains, and upholstery, lose their flexibility as the plasticizer evaporates molecules.

An inexpensive shower curtain will initially have a pungent odor when first removed from the packaging.

The odor is trapped by the packaging as the plasticizer evaporates. The PVC steering wheel will loose plasticizers when the car is left closed in the hot sun.

The buildup of plasticizer on the surface of the wheel produces an oily feel. As the plasticizer evaporates from car seat upholstery, it builds up on the inside of car windows and on the under side car ceiling and creates brown oily film.

Car tops and garden hoses become brittle and crack when they lose their plasticizer. The use of low cost plasticizers in PVC shower curtains attracts bacteria growth around the bottom of the curtain as the fungi feeds on the plasticizer.

There are several higher cost plasticizers that have excellent resistance to migration and bacteria. A biocide is often added with low cost plasticizer to reduce the attack of fungi. However, these significantly increase the cost of the PVC product.


Many plastics materials are brittle and must be modified to improve their ability to absorb shock. The notched impact strength of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polystyrene, and polypropylene are very low at room temperature and require impact modifier in most applications.

Impact resistance can be significantly improved by compounding or polymerizing impact absorbing rubbers, plasticizers, or higher impact plastics. There are three ways to modify brittle plastics with impact modifiers. The first is compounding additives into a plastic material, the second and third are variants of polymerization techniques.

The most economical method to improve the ability of a plastic to withstand an impact shock is to compound (in a dry blend or in the melt condition) a powder rubber or plasticizers.

The plastic, normally PVC of polystyrene compounded with rubber, will absorb the impact first in the brittle molecule, and then transfer the energy, to the rubber particle.

The compounded rubber acts similar to automotive shock absorbers. PVC is usually produced with an impact modifier. Impact resistance PVC has found wide application in the building trades as rain gutters, doorframes, corrugated sheets, patio furniture, and garden hoses.

Modified PVC is used widely in the packaging industry for bottles of oil, disposable cups, blister and skin packaging. In the electrical industry, it is used for insulating pipes and cable conduits.

The second method is to polymerize two monomers; one a brittle plastic and the other an impact resistant plastic.

The resulting plastic, a copolymer, has both the brittle and impact properties. The copolymerization technique produces a plastic with 15 to 25 per cent more impact component than the technique of compounding rubber power into the plastic.

In copolymerization of ABS plastic, styrene is polymerized with acrylonitrile and then modified with the rubber polybutadiene.

The versatility of ABS is widely known. Its ease of manufacture, excellent chemical resistance, rigidity, high impact resistance, color retention, and outstanding surface properties make this plastic the ideal material for computer and electronic housing, ABS pipe, and a wide range of consumer product including refrigerator liners, television housings, remote controllers, kitchen appliance housings, and children toys.

The third and most recent method is to graft an impact resistant plastic onto the molecular structure of a brittle plastic. This form of grafting is similar to grafting a different growth twig onto a tree stem.

The grafting allows brittle PVC plastic to be formed into tough and flexible window frames. Polypropylene with grafted ethylene propylene rubber (EPD) has proved especially useful as shoe heels, flexible heating tubes and hoses, cable insulation, and such automotive products as bumper covering, side panels, steering wheel housing, dashboards, consoles, handles, and wheel linings.


Biocides, sometimes called biostabilizers, fungicides, bactericides, and microbiocides are added to plastics materials to resist the biological corrosions of the plasticizer additive. Plastic materials are resistant to biological attack from microorganisms; however, the many plasticizers used in PVC are highly susceptible to attack.

The attack can be from fungi, bacteria, or other microorganisms, which use the plasticizer as a nutrient. The plasticizers known to be the most susceptible are adipates, azeleates, sebacates, polyesters, epoxidized oils, and lubricants.

Biocides are added to the plastic in small amounts ranging from 0.1 per cent to five per cent.

Biocides are toxic chemicals; however, the amount used is so small that it does not normally represent a toxic danger. However, biocides should not be used when the plastic product is to be in permanent contact with human skin, drinking water, or food. The same is true for plastics that are to be used in articles used by children or infants.

The result of the biological attack affects appearance with pink staining, loss of mechanical and electrical properties, and the development of mildew and odor. Plasticized PVC products most often requiring protection include shower curtains, bath mats, water beds, awnings, tents, lawn furniture, marine upholstery, auto seat covers, ground cloths, wall covering, floor coverings, coated fabrics, and electrical insulation.

The biological attacks are accelerated in hot and humid environments with temperatures of 80 to 100 degrees ∞F and relative humidity between 63 per cent to 99 per cent. Most plasticized PVC shower curtains exist in this type of environment and exhibit rapid growth of mildew and odor.



Main fields of application

Polyurethane sealants, films (automotive, tunnel linings, swimming pool covers, etc.), toys, gloves, profiles, tubing, coatings, work boots, occupational and protective clothing, waterbeds.


Main fields of application

Food film, synthetic lubricants.


Main fields of application

Wall coverings, flooring, caulks, sealants, adhesives, hot melt adhesives, powder coatings, binding agents, paints, gaskets; rolls


Main fields of application

Paints, sealants, adhesives, flooring, flexible hose, cable insulation, metal-machining fluids


Main fields of application

Cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, medical, food packaging, cigarette filters, lacquers, cling films, bottle caps, paper & aluminum foil coatings, hair sprays


Three oils are frequently used as raw materials for manufacture of epoxy plasticizers.

* Soybean oil
* Linseed oil
* Tall oil

Main fields of application

Cables, foils, films, sheets, coated fabrics, upholstery, wall coverings, flooring, tubes, pipes, blood bags, bottles, food wrap, medical, food


This is a very broad group containing monomeric and polymeric compounds, which may be classified as plasticizers or, in some cases, as slow evaporating solvents.


* Paraffinic oils
* Naphthenic oils
* Aromatic oils

Main fields of application

Sealants, coatings, degreasers, road marking paints, medical


Main fields of application

Cosmetics, hair care products, nail care products, beverage emulsions, lacquers, printing inks, textiles, vinyl flooring, toys


Main fields of application

Coatings, films, inks, film, sheet, leather, hose, flooring


Main fields of application

Cable & wire, thin-wall articles, plastisols


Main fields of application

Film, foams, paper coatings, textile coatings, latex paints, lacquers, sheet goods, wire, cable, tubing, sealants, printed circuit boards, photographic base film, synthetic leather, wall coverings, flooring, tarpaulins


* Phthalates
* Isophthalate
* Terephthalates

Main fields of application

Automotive, cable & wire, coatings, flooring, sheeting, film, tubing, extruded profiles, sealants, adhesives, bottle caps, gloves, upholstery, nail care, sporting goods, medical, food wrappers, electronics, toys, inks, coated fabrics, carpet backing, shoes, gaskets, foam


Main fields of application

Automotive parts, flooring, decorative decals, tank liners, refrigerator gaskets, footwear, adhesives, sealants, coatings, cables, wires, lacquers, print rolls, hose, seals, belts, o-rings, vinyl tapes, electrical insulation, upholstery