Diethylhexyl phthalate

DEHP; Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate; formula: C6H4(COOC8H17)2 or C24H38O4; CAS Registry Number: 117-81-7

The world's most important plasticizer among the chemical group of phthalates

Diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) is a plasticizer in many flexible plastics. It is mainly used in the production of plasticized PVC and is thus present for instances in floor tiles, wall coverings, carpets, furniture and automobile upholstery, wire insulation, medical products, food packaging, clothing, and toys. Depending on specification, plasticized PVC can contain 20-80% DEHP. Since DEHP is not chemically bound to PVC, it may outgas or be released upon contact with fluids and fat and thus enter the environment. Released DEHP binds strongly to particles and may be subject to long-range transport in the atmosphere.
In soils and sediments DEHP persists and shows high potential for bioaccumulation.
DEHP has been classified as toxic for reproduction Category 2. In animal experiments it is carcinogenic.

In the EU, DEHP is not allowed in baby articles and toys.

To quantify the internal DEHP exposure of humans five specific metabolites are analysed in urine. The sum of these represents about 70% of ingested DEHP.


5OH-MEHP Mono(2-ethyl-5-hydroxyhexyl)phthalate is a secondary metabolite of DEHP.
5oxo-MEHP Mono(2-ethyl-5-oxohexyl)phthalate is a secondary metabolite of DEHP.
5cx-MEPP Mono(2-ethyl-5-carboxypentyl)phthalate is a secondary metabolite of DEHP.
MEHP Mono(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate is the primary metabolite of DEHP after cleavage of one alcohol group.


Students Student groups with an even number of female and male students at the age of 20 to 29.

Sampling area

Sampling sites (humans) 4 university cities as sampling areas.

Sampling period

1988 - 2015