Nonylphenol and Nonylphenol Ethoxylates Action Plan Summary
- What chemicals are addressed in the Action Plan?
- Why is EPA concerned about these chemicals?
- What action is EPA taking?
- Previous Actions
- Current Actions
What chemicals are addressed in the action plan?
This action plan, released August 18, 2010, addresses nonylphenol (NP) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs).
Why is EPA concerned about these chemicals?
NP and NPEs are produced in large volumes, with uses that lead to widespread release to the aquatic environment.
NP is persistent in the aquatic environment, moderately bioaccumulative, and extremely toxic to aquatic organisms. NP has also been shown to exhibit estrogenic properties in in vitro and in vivo assays. NP’s main use is in the manufacture of NPEs.
NPEs are nonionic surfactants that are used in a wide variety of industrial applications and consumer products. Many of these, such as laundry detergents, are “down-the-drain” applications. Some others, such as dust-control agents and deicers, lead to direct release to the environment. NPEs, though less toxic and persistent than NP, are also highly toxic to aquatic organisms, and, in the environment, degrade into NP.
NP and NPEs have been found in environmental samples taken from freshwater, saltwater, groundwater, sediment, soil and aquatic biota. NP has also been detected in human breast milk, blood, and urine and is associated with reproductive and developmental effects in rodents.
What action is EPA taking?
- May 9, 2012 -- Through its Design for the Environment program, EPA released a final alternatives assessment identifying eight safer alternatives to nonylphenol ethoxylates.
- 1. Support and encourage the ongoing voluntary phase-out of NPEs in industrial laundry detergents. In discussions with EPA, the Textile Rental Services Association of America (TRSA) agreed to expedite a phase-out of NPEs in industrial laundry detergents (3 p., 197 kb.) About PDF). The phase out, which has already begun, is being coordinated with EPA’s DfE Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative (SDSI) program and would end the use of NPEs in industrial laundry detergents by 2013 for liquid detergents and 2014 for powder detergents. In addition, EPA intends to encourage the manufacturers of all NPE-containing direct-release products (e.g., firefighting gels and foams, dust-control agents and deicers) to move to NPE-free formulations. EPA will develop an alternatives analysis and encourage the elimination of NPE in other industries that discharge NPEs to water, such as the pulp and paper processing and textile processing sectors, where safer alternatives may be available. DfE also intends to expand the scope of SDSI, and encourage those industries to make commitments under SDSI. For detergent uses, the DfE-sponsored CleanGredients database offers a source of ready alternatives that are functionally equivalent to NPEs based on performance characteristics and safer because they meet the DfE criteria for safer surfactants.
- 2. Initiate rulemaking to simultaneously propose a significant new use rule (SNUR) under TSCA section 5(a) and a test rule for NP and NPEs under TSCA section 4. The proposed SNUR would designate use of NPEs in detergents and cleaning products a significant new use, which would require submission of a significant new use notice (SNUN) to EPA at least 90 days before beginning that use. This gives EPA the opportunity to take other regulatory action if appropriate. The proposed test rule would require development of the information necessary to determine the effects that NPEs and NP have on human health or the environment. EPA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) for NP and NPEs on June 17, 2009. However, EPA intends to evaluate how releases and exposures are mitigated through the phase-out action; and would finalize any proposed testing actions accordingly.
3. Consider initiating rulemaking under TSCA section 5(b)(4) to add NP and NPEs to the Concern List of chemicals that present or may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.
- 4. Initiate rulemaking to add NP and NPEs to the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), which would require facilities to report releases of these chemicals to the environment.
Read the citizens TSCA section 21 petition regarding NP and NPEs (PDF) (17 pp. 920 kb, About PDF).
Download the complete Nonylphenol (NP) and Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) Action Plan (PDF), (13 pp., 133KB, About PDF).