Nonylphenols

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Nonylphenols (NPs) are organic compounds that belong to a larger group of alkylphenols, and they are suspected endocrine disruptors.[1][2] Alkylphenols, including nonylphenol, are used to make alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), chemical compounds that are mainly used as synthetic surfactants used in detergents and cleaning products. The European Union and Canada have banned the use of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) in detergents.[3]

Nonylphenols are produced in large quantities in the United States and are often found as breakdown products from surfactants and detergents. They appear as white crystals and are often found in waste water streams. Nonylphenols do not degrade or dissolve in water.[4] Due to the harmful effects of the degradation products of nonylphenol ethoxylates in the environment, the use and production of such compounds have been banned in EU countries and strictly monitored in many other countries such as Canada and Japan. Although it has been shown that the concentration of nonylphenol in the environment is decreasing, it is still found at concentrations of 4.1 μg/l in river waters and 1 mg/kg in sediments[5]

Uses

Nonylphenols have been used as emulsifiers and modifiers in paints, pesticides, textiles, and some personal care products. They have also been used as plasticizers and antioxidants in plastics and resins. In the 1990s, over 500,000 tons of alkylphenol ethoxylates were produced annually worldwide. [6]

Nonylphenol ethoxylates are more commonly used than octylphenol ethoxylates. The alkylphenol ethoxylates enter the environment through human use of products containing them, through sewage, and through manufacturing waste streams.

Toxicity

Nonylphenol is a toxic xenobiotic compound classified as an endocrine disrupter capable of interfering with the hormonal system of numerous organisms. The impacts of nonylphenol in the environment include feminization of aquatic organisms, decrease in male fertility[7] and the survival of juveniles at concentrations as low as 8.2 μg/l. [8]

  • Freshwater Aquatic Life

The Environmental Protection Agency has set two types of standards: the first which is considered acute criteria is one-hour average concentration of nonylphenol does not exceed 28 μg/L more than once every three years on the average.

  • Saltwater Aquatic Life

For saltwater ecosystems, the standard is considered to be chronic criteria and is set to four-day average concentration of nonylphenol that does not exceed 6.6 μg/l more than once every three years on the average. [9]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. [alkylphenols and alkylphenol ethoxylates, Chemical Encyclopedia, Healthy Child Healthy World, Accessed November 9, 2010.
  2. Alkylphenolic Compounds - Introduction, Accessed November 9, 2010.
  3. A Safer Alternative Exists to This Toxic Cleaning Agent, Sierra Club, November 2005.
  4. Aquatic Life Criteria for Nonylphenol, US EPA website, Accessed August 16, 2010.
  5. Nonylphenol in the environment: A critical review on occurrence, fate, toxicity and treatment in wastewaters, Environment International Volume 34, Issue 7, October 2008, Pages 1033-1049
  6. [ http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport/data_tables/Octylphenol_ChemicalInformation.html 4-tert-octylphenol], Centers for Disease Control website, Accessed August 16, 2010.
  7. Shiva Dindyal, The sperm count has been decreasing steadily for many years in Western industrialised countries, The Internet Journal of Urology website, Accessed August 16, 2010.
  8. Nonylphenol in the environment: A critical review on occurrence, fate, toxicity and treatment in wastewaters, Environment International Volume 34, Issue 7, October 2008, Pages 1033-1049
  9. Aquatic Life Criteria for Nonylphenol, US EPA website, Accessed August 16, 2010.

External resources

External articles