Nonylphenol (NP/NPEs)

Nonylfenol, Nonylfenol (n-Nonylfenol)


Nonylphenol and Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NP/NPes)

CAS no


Molecular formula


 Alkylphenols are chemical compounds that consist of one or more alkyl chains bound to a phenol. The group contains a wide variety of substances with different properties and include for example nonyl, octyl, and dodecyl phenol. Nonylphenol is a colourless to yellow liquid that has low water solubility.1, 2


Alkylphenols are used in the industry. The use in Sweden has decreased during the past 20 years due to voluntary commitments by the industry as well as through regulations. Alkylphenols are used to produce alkylphenol ethoxylates, which are used as detergents, emulsifiers and surfactants.
3 Nonylphenol ethoxylates are also used as additives in concrete to prevent frost damage and to speed up the hardening process.4 Alkylphenols are formed as alkylphenol ethoxylates degrade.5

Nonylphenols and their ethoxylates are used in products such as paints, floor covering material, grout and sealants, degreasing agents and detergents, lubricants, adhesives and in biocides. They may also be present in textiles imported from non-EU countries.6,7,8

Sources and transportation pathways

There are no natural sources of nonylphenols and their ethoxylates in the environment. Wastewater treatment plants are an important source of nonylphenols to the aquatic environment. Some point source emissions may also occur, such as emissions from industries where these alkylphenols are used, and through leach water from landfills. Leakage from nonylphenol-containing products is another source of these substances.
9 Leakage from concrete structures via stormwater also contributes to the presence of nonylphenols in the environment. Concrete recycling including crushing may result in higher leaching of nonylphenols compared to existing structures.10

on environment and health

Nonylphenol is not easily degradable and bioaccumulates in the environment. Many alkylphenols are toxic to aquatic organisms. Nonylphenol is classified as very toxic to aquatic organisms and may cause long-term harm to the environment.

Exposure to nonylphenol causes severe eye and skin irritation. The substance is poisonous if ingested and is an endocrine disruptive. The substance may affect fertility and cause harm to the unborn child.12

International agreements and regulations

Nonylphenols are regulated by the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EC). The presence of nonylphenols in products is for example regulated by the EU REACH regulation (EC 1907/2006) and the EU regulation on Cosmetic products (EC 1223/2009). The UN Protocol on PRTRs and the EU E-PRTR regulation regulate how data on emissions of alkylphenols and their ethoxylates is made available.