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New database gives an overview of known plastic packaging-associated chemicals and their hazards

Recently published research shows that some chemicals associated with plastic packaging are hazardous for human health and/or the environment. In the paper a database of Chemicals associated with Plastic Packaging (CPPdb) is presented that includes chemicals used during manufacturing and/or present in final packaging materials. More than 4000 chemicals were found to be potentially present in plastic packaging, or used during its production.

Hazardous means that they have been classified according to at least one of the following criteria:
• the European Classification, Labeling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation which implements the United Nations' Globally Harmonized System (GHS): 63 compounds ranked highest for human health hazard and 68 for environmental hazard,
• classified in the European Union as persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT), or very persistent, very bioaccumulative (vPvB): 7 compounds,
• classified in the European Union as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC: 15 compounds,
recognized as EDC or potential EDC in the recent EDC report by the United Nations Environment Programme: 34 compounds

The identified hazardous chemicals are in the plastic for different reasons, as residues from the monomers used during plastic production, intermediates, solvents, surfactants, plasticizers, stabilizers, biocides, flame retardants, accelerators, colorants, etc.

The authors emphasized that the lack of transparency and incompleteness of publicly available information on both the use and toxicity of numerous substances challenged their work. The next steps are now to provide a detailed assessment of several of the compounds identified as hazardous and to analyze possibilities for substitution.

The research is implemented as a collaboration of academic scientists and non-governmental organizations who work together to identify the hazardous chemicals associated with plastic packaging in the project hazardous chemicals in plastic packaging, funded by the MAVA foundation, in which FRAM researchers Thomas Backhaus, Daniel Slunge, and Pedro Inostroza participate.

Read the full paper on Science Direct.