Octyl Phenol Ethoxylate; Nonyl Phenol Ethoxylate
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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.

APE
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
http://www.sdahq.org/sdalatest/html/techform1.htm
http://www.tmc.tulane.edu/ecme/EEHome/default.html

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.
Wildlife Toxicology Program
245 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 410
Toronto, ON M4P 3J1
Tel: 416-489-4567
Fax: 416-489-3611
e-mail: ssang@wwfcanada.org

Other information is available from European sources: http://www.foe.co.uk/camps/indpoll/suschem.htm