We could define the plasticizers
as chemical compounds added to a polymer material with the aim to implement certain characteristics, such as flexibility, workability and deformability.
These substances are generally used for numerous types of products in every industrial sector
: from electrical wiring cables to plastic films, from synthetic fabrics for footwear and clothing to some medical-surgical devices, from automotive components (car industry) until floorings.
Among the plasticizers
, the most known from an environmental and toxicological point of view are certainly the phthalates. Phthalates are esters of the phthalic acid
and among their qualities there is the poor water solubility. On the contrary, they are volatile and highly soluble in oils. Generally colourless, they come from the esterification of phthalic anhydride and an alcohol between 6 and 13 carbon atoms.
can be categorized into different families
. Among these, the best known include the following, besides the already mentioned phthalates:
- Trimellitates plasticizers
- Ester plasticizers of cyclohexanedicarboxylic acid (DINCH)
- Polymeric plasticizers
- Aliphatic esters plasticizers
- Epoxy esters plasticizers
- Alkyl sulfonates
The main use of plasticizers
is as an additive to plastics, rubbers, adhesives, sealants, inks and lubricants.
Features of platicizers as an additive to plastics
- The plasticizers must be compatible with the polymer, so as to incorporate into it in a stable and homogeneous way
- The plasticizers must not be volatile
- The plasticizers must resist the effect of extraction in contact with liquids
- The plasticizers must be chemically inert towards the polymer, as well as chemically stable against light and heat
- The plasticizers must have good characteristics of resistance to hydrolysis or oxidation by atmospheric agents and oxygen.