GLRPPR Sector Resource: Green Chemistry and Design NP and NPE in Detergents Project
Green Chemistry and Design NP and NPE in Detergents Project
In Minnesota, nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) is listed by the Minnesota Department of Health as a Chemical of High Concern.
MPCA recognizes that nonylphenol (NP) and NPE have been used in virtually all indoor and outdoor settings and that that their persistence leads to their long-term presence in river and lake sediments and in water treatment residues generated, land-applied or incinerated.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) focused on industrial detergent use as the most nationally-significant remaining use of NPE and EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE) staff are working with companies to implement voluntary phase-out and substitution of NPE-containing liquid detergents in 2013 and powder detergents in 2014, under DfE's Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative.
Previous work has eliminated NP and NPE in household detergents. NPE continues to be used as a surfactant in other products such as paint and pesticides, but those uses are understood by EPA to be lower-level and more difficult to address because of the number of manufacturers and distributors of those types of products.
In contrast, large-scale laundries in Minnesota would be fewer and easier to contact. The MPCA project will therefore leverage the DfE work with industrial laundries. The MPCA will approach the project in phases. Phase 1 will consist of outreach to businesses like uniform cleaning services and commercial entities like hospitals which are likely to operate large-scale laundering. The outreach will help determine the extent of remaining uses of NP or NPE in their detergents.
If the MPCA finds during outreach that large-scale laundries continue to use NP or NPE-containing detergents in applications in which safer substitutes have been demonstrated, the agency will consider successive phases:
Phase 2: Outreach and assistance
Phase 3: Support and evaluation
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
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