Octyl Phenol Ethoxylate; Nonyl Phenol Ethoxylate
These two members of the Alkyl Phenol Ethoxylate family of surfactants (APEs) appear in a number of janitorial products. The ability of APEs to harm to the user is limited because they must be eaten in order for their effects to be felt.
However, all of the APEs persist in the environment and even in very small amounts can damage the hormone systems of animals. It is strongly suspected that humans eating these animals, or drinking from supply systems that draw river water downstream of sewage treatment plants, will be harmed as well.
Structure of Alkyl Phenol Ethoxylate
OSHA Regulations do not yet require that APEs be listed on material safety data sheets. Therefore, to find out about the presence of APEs in your products you must ask the technical service people at the manufacturer.
There is a great deal of emerging information on the internet about the impact of APEs:http://www.epa.gov/endocrine
The Washington Toxics Coalition has issued a report regarding APEs. Copies may be ordered by contacting WTC at (206) 632-1545.
Canadian efforts to evaluate APEs are available in a report from:
Susan Sang, Ph.D.
Other information is available from European sources: http://www.foe.co.uk/camps/indpoll/suschem.htm