Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic is used in medical devices for critical applications such as enternal feeding, wound drainage and airway ventilation. However, it is hard and brittle at room temperature. To make it flexible, it must be softened by a chemical additive called a "plasticizer."
The most commonly used plasticizers today are phthalates.
DEHP (Di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate), also known as dioctyl phthalate of DOP, has been the most commonly used phthalate plasticizer in the medical device industry.2
1. Ashman P, SMTL Closed System Study Test Report, 2009, Data on file, ConvaTec Inc.
2. Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly-Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) Opinion on the safety of medical devices
containing DEHP plasticised PVC or other plasticisers on neonates and other groups possibly at risk - 6 February 2008.