LEVERKUSEN, Germany — German company LANXESS is expanding production of a plastic-softening chemical that is made without an ingredient that disrupts hormones and is being phased out of certain products in the U.S. and European Union.
LANXESS is increasing capacity for its Mesamoll range of plasticizers that don't contain phthalates, chemicals that have been linked to hormone changes (earning it the "gender bender" moniker), birth defects and metabolism disruption, in response to higher demand for greener chemicals.
The company said that sales have been above average since 2005 and have been growing at about a 15 percent annual growth rate. In response, the company is expanding its productions facilities by 40 percent, expecting to have the additional capacity by the end of this year.
Phthalates are used to soften plastics, primarily PVC, and can be found in all types of toys, medical equipment like IV tubes and various other items. Phthalates can leech from plastic into food or liquids the plastic comes into contact and then make their way into people.
In the late '90s, Canada and the European Union began restricting the use of some phthalates in certain baby products or toys, and in 2008 the U.S. passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which set restrictions on the use of some phthalates in children's toys and products. Canada has since considered expanding its phthalates ban to include more products. Other concerns have been raised about the presence of phthalates in perfumes, lotions and other cleaning and personal care products.
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