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The need for Nonyphenol Ethoxylate (NPE) alternatives (EPA phase out actions on the horizon)

by | Jan 5, 2011

It’s no secret that the EPA has targeted nonylphenols and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), both falling into the general surfactant groups of alkylphenols and alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), for phase out in the coming year.

In the EPA NP and NPE Action Plan, published in August of 2010, NPEs were described as highly toxic to aquatic organisms, and in the environment degrade to the more environmentally persistent NP.

NPEs were also associated with a host of other human health concerns.

As a result, the EPA stated its intention to “initiate action to address its concerns about potential ecological effects due to the manufacturing, processing, distribution in commerce, and uses of NP and NPEs.” (Click here to read the full EPA action plan)

The four main measures of action proposed by the EPA include:

1) Support and encouragement of the ongoing phase-out NPEs in industrial laundry detergents.

In doing so, the EPA plans to encourage the manufacturers of all NPE-  containing direct-release products (likely including marine cleaners, firefighting gels and foams, dust-control agents and deicers) to move to formulations containing NPE alternatives.

2) Propose significant new use rule (SNUR) under TSCA section 5(a) and a test rule for NP and NPEs under TSCA section 4.

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.

J R Hess is committed to working with formulators on providing NPE alternatives.  In fact, the EPA specifically mentions both branched and linear Alcohol Ethoxylates as a desirable substitute for certain formulations and applications.

We have been working with and supplying Alcohol Ethoxylates for years. We look forward to providing solutions in light of the proposed phase-outs for formulators and manufacturers.

Please feel free to contact us for more information and stay tuned for additional updates as the EPA begins to formalize proposed NPE rule making.

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