NPEs (nonylphenol ethoxylates) break down in the environment into nonylphenol (NP), one of the most notorious examples of persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic chemicals (PBTs). Widely recognized for extreme aquatic toxicity to fish and wildlife, NPEs and NP may also threaten the health of the developing fetus and young children. Despite being phased out of laundry detergents, widespread use in other consumer products routinely releases NPEs into our homes and the environment.
Potential health effects include:
- Hormone (endocrine) disruption
- Extreme aquatic toxicity
- Skin and eye irritation
- Reproductive harm
- Birth defects
- Persistent and bioaccumulative
Commonly used in:
- Household paints, colorants and wood finishes
- Clothing and textiles
- Paint and stain removers
- Surface and drain cleaners
- Indoor pesticides
- Food packaging (contains related chemicals)
- Footwear, toys and games (contains 4-nonylphenol)
NPEs are rarely listed as an ingredient on a product label. Since NPEs are widely used in large amounts in virtually all household paints, you should ask paint manufacturers to reformulate with safer alternatives.
Wash new clothes before you wear them to reduce exposure to NPEs in your home. (NPEs still need to be phased out of textile processing to protect the environment).
Avoid the specific cleaners and stain removers that contain NPEs, as reported to the State of Maine by consumer product manufacturers.
Reduce reliance on toys and games that use synthetic rubber, plastics and foams. Search the State of Washington database for specific children’s products that contain NPEs.
Urge Gap Inc. and other members of the footwear and apparel industry coalition to achieve their goal of zero discharge of hazardous chemicals, including NPEs, by 2020.
Don’t use pesticides inside your home. Avoid buying food packaged in plastics whenever practicable.
* Under our weak federal laws, it’s impossible for us to know all the uses of NPEs in consumer products. As a result, this is not an exhaustive list of all products containing NPEs.