EPA has issued an action plan to address potential health risks of nonylphenol (NP) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs). NP is primarily used in the manufacture of NPE, which is used in industrial applications and consumer products such as detergents, cleaners, agricultural and indoor pesticides, and food packaging. According to EPA, NP is persistent in the aquatic environment, moderately bioaccumulative and extremely toxic to aquatic organisms. NPEs, though less toxic than NP, are also highly toxic to aquatic organisms and, in the environment, degrade into NP.
EPA’s plan announced the following actions with respect to NP and NPE: (i) support and encourage the voluntary phase-out of NPEs in industrial laundry detergent; (ii) 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; (iii) develop an alternatives analysis and encourage the elimination of NPE in other industries that discharge NPEs to water; (iv) initiate rulemaking to simultaneously propose a significant new use rule (SNUR) under TSCA section 5(a) and a test rule for NP and NPE under TSCA section 4 which would designate use of NPEs in detergents as a significant new use and require submissions to EPA of a significant new use notice (SNUN) at least 90 days before beginning that use; (v) consider initiating a rulemaking under TSCA section 5(b)(4) to add NP and NPEs to the list of chemicals that may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment; and (vi) initiate rulemaking to add NP and NPEs to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), which would require facilities to report releases of these chemicals to the environment. EPA also intends to evaluate the disproportionate impact on children of these chemicals.