Danish Environment Minister Ida Auken has decided to ban four industrial chemicals linked to disrupting the human endocrine system, pushing Denmark ahead of the European Union which has already started a process of phasing phthalates.
Auken said she would introduce a ban this autumn on DEHP, DBP, DIBP and BBP phthalates.
Phthalates are chemical substances which are used to make plastic soft and more flexible. They can be found in everyday products such as rubber boots, oilcloths and vinyl flooring and have already been banned in Europe for use in children’s toys.
In deciding the ban, Auken is defying EU regulation in the area. In Spring 2013, the European Commission is due to look into further action in the area of endocrine disrupters that could lead to tougher regulation of phthalates.
Phthalates are among other things suspected of making men sterile and of pushing young girls into puberty too early.
“The Danish Environment Ministry has enough documentation so we feel now is time for action,” Auken told EurActiv.
“The EU will look at this in spring, and we know how long it will take before everyone agrees on what to do. It has to go through all the institutions, and then it has to come into force. It can take a really long time so I don’t think that Denmark should wait for that when there are such clear [risk] indications in this area.”
“Therefore I take these phthalates off the market,” the Danish environment minister said in a telephone interview.