Nonylphenol and its ethoxylates (NP and NPEs) – performance measurement evaluation

Nonylphenol and its Ethoxylates

Nonylphenol and its ethoxylates (NP and NPEs) were identified as a concern to the environment based on the results of a Priority Substance List assessment completed in 2001. As a result, the Government of Canada added NP and NPEs to the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA 1999).

At the time of the assessment, the sources of concern identified for NP and NPEs were the use of down-the-drain type products (e.g., soap and cleaning products) that contain NPEs, and releases from textile mills and pulp and paper mills. 
The proposed environmental objective is to achieve ambient concentrations of NP and NPEs in Canadian waters that do not exceed the Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life established for NP and NPEs by the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. The proposed risk management objectives were to achieve a 95% reduction of NPEs in the formulation of soap and cleaning products, processing aids used in textile wet processing and pulp and paper processing aids for use in Canada, and a 97% reduction in the annual use of NP and NPEs by the textile sector.

To protect the environment, the Government of Canada put in place Pollution Prevention Planning Notices for products that contained NPEs and for textile mills that use wet processing. In addition, the pulp and paper sector voluntarily reduced its use of NPEs.

The performance measurement evaluation for NP and NPEs compared environmental concentration values to the Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life for NP and NPEs and found that the current concentration of NP and NPEs in surface water is well below levels considered protective to aquatic life. The performance measurement evaluation also found that the majority of sediment samples had concentrations of NP and NPEs below the Canadian Sediment Quality Guidelines (CSQG), and that the Pollution Prevention Planning Notices have been very successful in reducing the uses of NP and NPEs in products and use by textile mills. Further, voluntary measures taken by pulp and paper mills appear to have greatly reduced the use of NP and NPEs in that sector.

The performance measurement evaluation concluded that no further risk management action is required at this time. The evaluation recommends that environmental monitoring continue in surface water, sediment, and wastewater.

Complete details on the performance measurement evaluation of the ecological component for NP and NPEs can be found in Performance Measurement Report for Risk Management of Nonylphenol and Its Ethoxylates, eco-component.

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