Project – SafeBlood – blood bags free of PVC and plasticisers

Peter  Sommer-Larsen

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Project – SafeBlood – blood bags free of PVC and plasticisers


Project start November 2011. Expected completion May 2014.

The European project SafeBlood will develop new blood bags with a polyolefin-based film instead of the current PVC blood bags that contain endocrine-disrupting phthalates. The challenge will especially consist in obtaining sufficient blood stabilisation as the phthalate DEHP in today’s bags leaks to the blood and influences the red blood cells and, thereby, prevents their degradation. Therefore, it is necessary to add another substance that influences the blood in the same way as phthalates do and that is not hazardous to the health.

To solve these challenges, a natural substance able to stabilise the red blood cells has been identified. The natural substance is well-known and not hazardous to the health, and it is consumed daily and contributes to a healthy diet and body. To make the natural substance work in the blood bags, this project will develop a method for encapsulation of the natural compound followed by its incorporation into the plastic film. The substance will be released from the capsules in the plastic to the blood in the exact amount required to ensure the quality of the blood before it is used for a patient. In addition, the project will develop a perfect film that will meet the legal requirements for blood bags.

The project will result in patients not being exposed to endocrine-disrupting phthalates during blood transfusions, which will especially be of vital importance to the future health of premature babies and patients requiring repeated transfusion. Similarly, people working in the medical sector will be less exposed to phthalates. Substituting PVC film with polyolefin film will also ensure a reduced environmental impact as the incineration of PVC – which is a statutory requirement made on hospital waste – creates unwanted chlorine gasses. Due to the weight difference of the materials, the amount of waste will also be reduced, providing a substantial economic effect on waste costs.

Objective of the project

  • Development of an encapsulation method that ensures the correct release of the natural substance from the film to the blood for optimum stabilisation.
  • Development of a film that contains the encapsulated, polyolefin-based natural substance and meets the legal requirements for blood bags.


  • Danish Technological Institute, Chemistry and Biotechnology
  • Danish Technological Institute, Plastics Technology
  • Melitek A/S (Denmark)
  • Haemotronic S.p.A. (Italy)

The project is funded by EUREKA – the Eurostars programme.