In a press release published on July 25, 2019, the U.S-based non-governmental organization Ecology Center launched a report from a study carried out by its Healthy Stuff program to investigate “phthalates and other chemicals of concern” in 101 types of disposable gloves used to handle food.

Various combinations of four hazardous ortho-phthalates, including di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP, 117-81-7), diisononyl phthalate (DINP, CAS 28553-12-0 or 68515-48-0), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP, CAS 26761-40-0 or 68515-49-1), and bis(2-propylheptyl) phthalate (DPHP, CAS 53306-54-0), were detected in 14% of all tested gloves. All gloves that tested positive for ortho-phthalates were made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Many more PVC-based gloves contained terephthalate dioctyl terephthalate (DOTP, CAS 6422-86-2). DOTP is considered less hazardous than most ortho-phthalates, but data is currently lacking to describe its respiratory sensitization and neurotoxicity. The authors emphasize that “plasticizers are small molecules, unbound to the vinyl polymer,” and they make up “a large percentage of the glove’s weight—typically upwards of 30%.”

The study also found that “two out of three restaurants visited use vinyl gloves,” some of which were found to contain ortho-phthalates. The authors point out that “safer alternatives to vinyl gloves are available, including bare hands with proper washing, polyethylene (preferred), and nitrile (acceptable).”

Ecology Center participates in the ongoing Toxic-Free Food campaign carried out by the NGO alliance “Coalition for safer food processing & packaging,” which seeks to “persuade major food manufacturers to identify and eliminate phthalates and other chemicals of high concern from the American food supply.”

Read more

Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff program (July 25, 2019). “Vinyl gloves study 2019.

Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging (2019). “Toxic-Free Food.

Safer Chemicals Healthy Families (July 25, 2019). “New study finds toxic chemicals in plastic gloves used at McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s.”

Chemical Watch (July 30, 2019). “US NGOs push McDonald’s to end use of vinyl gloves.”


Arbor A., et al. (July 25, 2019). “Taking off the toxic gloves: An investigation of phthalates and other chemicals of concern in food-handling gloves.(pdf)