Phthalate screening in plastics by portable FTIR spectroscopy

phthalate FTIR analyzer

phthalate analyzer

The Agilent 4500 portable FTIR analyzer provides a quantitative method for determining the level of phthalate plasticizer in plastics. The calibrated method affords a limit of quantification as low as 0.1% as well as provides a very rapid means of screening plastic products and components. This ensures that greater volume of plastic materials can be screened more efficiently for compliance with regulatory guidelines.

Value of FTIR pre-screening for phthalates

There are substantial benefits gained by pre-screening plastic materials for phthalates with Agilent portable and handheld FTIR spectrometers. Examples include:

  • Rapid measurement of total phthalate concentration to a 0.1% limit of quantification (LOQ) with little or no sample preparation.
  • Non-destructive identification of higher level phthalate-containing parts in products that are mostly phthalate free.
  • Quick identification of plastic parts that are unlikely to contain plasticizers, such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, nylon, polyester, cardboard/paper, or silicone rubber.
  • Quick screening and detection of cross contamination between a non-phthalate and a phthalate factory part.


The Agilent 4500a portable FTIR equipped with three reflection diamond FTIR spectrometers accurately measures total phthalates in plastics and functions as a rapid screening tool for these hazardous substances. This capability allows for quantification of phthalates to the regulated level of 0.1% for a single banned phthalate. Multiple calibrations and advanced conditional reporting features in Agilent’s MicroLab PC software makes the FTIR phthalates method more flexible at measuring phthalates in PVC with other legal types of plasticizers. Additionally, plastics parts can be identified to improve the efficiency and productivity of the GC-MS gold standard method.
The compact size, ruggedness and portability of the Agilent 4500a FTIR system allows plastic parts and objects to be rapidly screened in the field as needed. This benefit helps to ensure that hazardous plastic material does not reach the consumer market.


Excerpt from Agilent Technologies Application Note “Rapid and reliable phthalate screening in plastics by portable FTIR spectroscopy”