By Meredith McGrath
(Reuters) - The European Union has agreed to let companies use recycled plastics containing softening additive diethylhexyl phthalate despite opposition from politicians and environmentalists who say exposure to the chemical poses a threat to human health.
The European Commission said there would be safeguards to address such concerns, such as monitoring and reporting requirements concerning worker exposure to DEHP, and the adoption of a shorter period when the authorization will have to be reviewed.
It said the measure was needed to reduce the amount of waste material. DEHP is an endocrine disruptor and can pose toxic threats to the reproductive system. Recycled plastics are commonly used in shoes and floors.
In November, an overwhelming majority of European lawmakers urged the EU executive not to authorize the substance.
Environmental lobbying group ClientEarth criticized the Commission's decision.
"This vote creates a bad precedent that obsolete toxics are still welcome in the EU, even if they are dangerous. Unfortunately another four years of uncontrolled use of DEHP in PVC plastics will be our legacy for future generations," ClientEarth Lawyer Vito Buonsante said.
(Additional reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel; Editing by Greg Mahlich)