Diethylhexyl phthalate

DEHP; Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate; formula: C6H4(COOC8H17)2 or C24H38O4; CAS Registry Number: 117-81-7
Structure of diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP)
Source: PubChem
Identifier: CID 8343

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

Diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) is a plasticizer in many flexible plastics. It was 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 European Union (EU), general use of DEHP without special authorization is prohibited.

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.
  • 2cx-MMHP
    Mono(2-carboxymethyl-hexyl)phthalate is a secondary metabolite of DEHP.


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Sampling area

Sampling period

1988 - 2015