Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP)

This fact sheet is a summary of the Priority Existing Chemical (PEC) report at the time it was assessed and published. More information on the chemical can be found in the Inventory Multi-tiered Assessment and Prioritisation (IMAP) human health report.

CAS number: 85-68-7

Butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), also known as 1,2-benzenedicarboxylic acid, butyl phenylmethyl ester, is a member of the group of chemicals known as phthalates. BBP is a colourless oily liquid and may be used as a plasticiser (which makes other substances more pliable).

The chemical is not manufactured in Australia. It is imported in finished products (or articles) and in mixtures for local processing.

Uses of BBP in Australia

Industrial uses

Following mandatory and/or voluntary calls for information under the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS), the chemical BBP was reported to be used in adhesives, sealants, coatings, paints, inks, and plasticisers.

Children’s toys and childcare articles

The chemical has been identified as being in use, or with the potential for use, in children’s toys and childcare articles in Australia. The available information indicates that BBP is not used as a primary (or dominant) plasticiser in articles that are likely to be mouthed by young children. It may be present as a secondary plasticiser at a maximum concentration of 0.5 %.

Cosmetics

The chemical was not reported as having cosmetic uses in Australia.

Reasons for assessment of BBP as a priority existing chemical (PEC)

The chemical BBP has been assessed in Australia as a Priority Existing Chemical (PEC) for the following reasons:

  • phthalates are widely used as solvents and plasticisers in industrial and consumer products;
  • there may be a risk to the public from repeated and long-term exposure, both directly and indirectly through migration and by leaching from products containing BBP; and
  • BBP has been restricted for use in certain consumer products by several overseas regulators.

Read the full assessment for BBP [WORD 329 KB].

Health effects

The chemical BBP was found to be an intrinsically hazardous phthalate for both reproductive (testicular) and developmental (embryo toxicity, reduced birth weight and birth defects) toxicity.

Reproductive toxicity induced by BBP may have serious long-term effects and affect the development and reproduction of future populations if the exposure occurs within a critical window of human development.

The assessment conclusions support the current hazard classification of BBP in Safe Work Australia’s Hazardous Substances Information System (HSIS) as a Reproductive Toxicant Category 2 with the risk phrase R61 ‘May cause harm to the unborn child’ and as a Reproductive Toxicant Category 3 with the risk phrase R62 ‘Possible risk of impaired fertility’.

Public exposure and health risk

In the PEC assessment of BBP, the potential public health risks are assessed for children using toys and childcare articles only, based on modelled use scenarios for BBP (at a maximum concentration of 0.5 % in a mixed phthalate plasticiser).

The estimated risks for the critical developmental effects of BBP, whether being used alone or from combined exposure to multiple phthalates in cosmetics (particularly in body lotion) indicate an adequate safety margin for children’s exposure to toys and childcare articles at current usage levels.

On this basis, NICNAS determined that restrictions on the use of BBP in children’s toys and childcare articles are not warranted at this stage.

While there is no current indication of BBP being used in cosmetics in Australia, BBP could be potentially used as a substitute for other phthalates that are subject to regulation (e.g. dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP)), based on its properties, functions and uses. It should be emphasised that cosmetic use of BBP, were it to occur, may give rise to significant risks of reproductive and developmental toxicity, and the restriction recommended in this report is intended to address these potential risks.

Restrictions

The chemical BBP is prohibited for use in cosmetics in the European Union (EU), Southeast Asia and China. The use of BBP in children’s toys and childcare articles is restricted to 0.1 % by weight in the European Union (EU), the United States of America (USA) and Canada.

Regulatory recommendations

NICNAS recommends that BBP be referred to the Delegate for Chemicals Scheduling to consider listing it in Schedule 10/Appendix C of the Poisons Standard (Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons (SUSMP)) to limit potential public exposure, including young children, to BBP from its possible use in cosmetic and personal care products.

This section of the Poisons Standard is a list of substances, with the heading, “SUBSTANCES OF SUCH DANGER TO HEALTH AS TO WARRANT PROHIBITION OF SALE, SUPPLY AND USE.”

Publication of the final BBP PEC report revokes the declaration of the chemical as a PEC; therefore, manufacturers and importers wanting to introduce the chemical in the future need not apply for assessment.

However, manufacturers and importers need to be aware of their duty under Section 64 of the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act 1989 (ICNA Act) to provide any new information to NICNAS, including any additional information that becomes available as to an adverse effect of the chemical on worker health and safety, public health or the environment.

Please check with your local state/territory authorities for any other regulations and obligations.

Other fact sheets on phthalates

Please note, our recommendations are not always implemented by chemical regulators. For the most up-to-date information about how a particular chemical is regulated in your State or Territory you will need to contact other government agencies. Read What we do for details about our regulatory partners.

Last update 1 August 2015