DBP - A speciality plasticiser

An information resource on the plasticiser di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP)

DBPDi-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), also known as dibutyl phthalate,  is a specialist plasticiser often used in combination with other high molecular weight phthalates. 

DBP is used extensively in the adhesives industry to plasticise polyvinyl acetate (PVA) emulsions. The low viscosity and compatibility of DBP make it ideally suited for PVA-based adhesives for bonding cellulosic materials. Depending on the amount of plasticiser used, the handling and application properties of PVA adhesive can be varied greatly.

DBP is an excellent solvent for many oil-soluble dyes, insecticides, peroxides and other organic compounds, It is used as an antifoam agent and as a fibre lubricant in textile manufacturing.

Primary plasticiser-solvent

DBP is also used in the coatings industry as a primary plasticiser-solvent for nitrocellulose lacquers. It contributes excellent flexibility at low temperatures and is especially desirable because of its broad compatibility with modifying resins.

Reports that have linked DBP with adverse human health effects are unfounded and unsubstantiated. 

In many countries it is used as an ingredient in nail polish to make it chip resistant. The decades of extensive testing and risk assessment of DBP by industry, government, and independent scientists supports the belief that its use in nail polish and other approved cosmetics applications is safe.

In Europe however, the use of DBP in cosmetics is now forbidden based on DBP's classification. Under changes to the EU Cosmetics Directive agreed in 2004, cosmetics including nail polish containing DBP cannot be sold to the general public from April 1, 2005.

New Study of CDC Data Undermines Activist Campaign Against the Use of Phthalates in Cosmetics

"Why do women between the age of 20 to 40 years have higher levels of dibutyl-phthalate (DBP) in their bodies than anyone else?" asks a web site devoted to attacking the use of phthalates in cosmetics.

The answer, it turns out, is that they don't, according to a new and more detailed analysis of data generated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC's analysis shows that whilst levels of DBP metabolites are higher in women than in men the exposures are about 90 times lower than the safety level established by the US government.

Di-n-butyl phthalate

  • Di-n-butyl phthalate CAS No 84-74-2
  • Synonyms: Di-n-butyl phthalate, 1,2-Benzenedicarboxylic acid, dibutyl ester (9CI), Phthalic acid, dibutyl ester (6CI, 8CI), Bis-n-butyl phthalate, Butyl phthalate, DBP, DBP (ester), Di(n-butyl) 1,2-benzenedicarboxylate, Dibutyl o-phthalate, n-Butyl phthalate, Palatinol C, Phthalic acid di-n-butyl ester
  • Molecular formula: C16H22O4
  • Molecular weight (theoretical): 278.34


EU Risk Assessment

An EU Risk Assessment has been conducted on DBP and the final outcome has now been published in the EU Official Journal. To eliminate a potential risk to plants in the vicinity of processing sites and possibly to workers through inhalation measures are to be taken within the framework of the IPPC Directive (96/61/EC) and the Occupational Exposure Directive (98/24/EC).

However, following the recent adoption of EU legislation with regard to the marketing and use of phthalates in toys and childcare articles, the risk assessment conclusions  clearly state there is no need for any further measures to regulate the use of DBP in finished products.

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