Dioxin (Diol) is a chemical substance obtained from the fungus Trichophyton rubrum. This fungal microorganism is known to be the causative factor in contact dermatitis. The name 'dioxin' was coined based on the German term "diox" which means 'noxious'. It is formed as a result of the reaction between chlorine and the naturally occurring sulfur compound phenol. Phthalates are often used in industrial applications for elimination of tough stains and greasiness in fabrics.
Bis (2-ethyl hexyl) Phthalate is a compound that is contained in thousands of plasticizers, most commonly polycarbonate. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a common constituent of plasticizers and is found in PVC, including polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyurethane (PU) and epoxy resin. It is the main constituent of phthalates. Dioxin is produced through the process of photolysis in which a compound called diphenylamine is converted to dihydroxyacetone, or Diba, which is a toxic compound.
Phthalates are categorized into two forms: monomers and conjugated. Atoms possess one or more dipoles at their center atoms. In case of Dioctyl Phthalate, one of these dipoles is paired with an amino group, thus producing a phthalate. This is followed by formation of hydrogen bonding agents. These agents help in attaching to other molecules in plastics and help them gain access to extra chemical energy needed for their existence. The conjugated form of phthalates is formed in a different way and are termed as dipole or double-faced plastics.
Popular ways of Dioctyl Phthalate
The Dioctyl Phthalate family includes several toxic chemicals. The two most popular are Dichlorobenzoic (DBC), a known skin irritant; Diethyl Ester, a potential endocrine disruptor; and Benzyl Polyethylene Chloride (BPA), a plasticizer containing low-methane homopolymers. Dioxins produced through the actions of Dioctyl Phthalate are considered particularly concerning because they have been shown to be associated with reduced sperm count in human studies. Studies have also indicated that exposure to high levels of Dioxins could be carcinogenic.
Dioxins are formed when Phthalic Acid interacts with DNA or RNA. Dioxins act like DNA or RNA viruses that attach to living cells, causing mutations in their DNA sequence. One of the widely used plasticizers in the U.S. is polyvinyl butyral, commonly referred to as PVC. The other common plasticizers in use are BPA and polycarbonate.
A major concern in relation to PVC and dioxins concerns the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines during long-term exposure to low volatility plasticizers such as PVC. Vinyl chloride and Phthalic Acetate (PVC) are two of the main plasticizers in use today. The Environmental Protection Agency believes that the health risks from exposure to these chemicals are not supported by evidence.
While Dioctyl Phthalate is found in PVC, it is also used as a stabilizer in solvents and sealants because it maintains the inherent chemical stability of these materials. The FDA has determined that there is no evidence that dioxins are released into consumers' bodies when using these low volatile plasticizers and solvents. Health risks from long-term exposure to dioxins remain unclear.
Both PVC and Dioctyl Phthalate are widely used in U.S. manufacturing. Consumers are advised to avoid these chemicals when possible. In addition, it is strongly recommended that all packaging and labels are kept in view to avoid exposure to Phthalates and Dioctyl Phthalate. If you or someone you know is exposed to one or both of these chemicals, the highest possible level of exposure is considered safe. However, the effects of long-term exposure to these chemicals are unknown.
Another common plasticizer chemical is 2-ethylhexyl phthalate or VWP. This organic compound is usually added to polystyrene and other polyurethane products in very small amounts. It does not include chlorine, as many other organics do, but its combination with vinyl allows for greater flexibility. Since the EPA says that cancer risk is "unacceptable", this chemical is legally required to include a warning on products that it can potentially cause cancer. For this reason, manufacturers are encouraged to include a cancer warning on their labels.
For many years, a popular alternative to PVC and Dioxin is a polyimide gel. Polyimide gel is similar to Dioxin in that it is made from combining two different chemicals, but there are differences that make polyimide safer than Dioxin. Polyimide gel is a safe replacement because it combines the healthful characteristics of both Dioxin and PVC. Furthermore, since polyimide is made from one compound rather than two, it does not generate any Dioxin or PVC by-products.
Although Dioctyl Phthalate and similar chemicals have received a great deal of negative attention in recent years, their use is still prevalent in a variety of household products. If you are currently using a product that contains Dioxin or a similar ingredient, be sure to read the ingredients. If you would like to reduce your exposure to Dioxins and similar compounds, choose an alternative product with a chemical called bisphenol. Bisephenol is a safer alternative to Dioxin.