Skip to main content

'No regulation' in India on use of deadly chemical in surfactants, consumer products

By Our Representative
A new study released by Toxics Link, ‘Dirty Trail: Detergent to Water Bodies’, has found alarming levels of the toxic chemical nonylphenol in detergents as well as in river waters in India. The detergent samples were taken from the local markets of Delhi and water from six rivers i.e. Garh Ganga and Hindon in Uttar Pradesh, Krishnan in Andhra Pradesh, Tapti in Gujarat, Bandi in Rajasthan, Mahanadi in Odisha and Ambazari lake in Nagpur.
Pointing towards the danger nonylphenol, the study states, it is “a xenobiotic and an endocrine disrupting chemical is used largely in the production of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE)”, which is “extensively used as a surfactant and in other industrial applications as well as in day to day consumer products.”
Noting that NPE “generally breaks down to nonylphenol in natural environmental conditions and enters into the ecosystem”, and also enters into “the food chain, where it bio-accumulates and can pose serious environmental and health risks”, the study says, “USA, the European Union and China have “acknowledged the menace of this chemical and have put restrictions on its use in various industrial processes and have shifted towards safer alternatives.”
While these countries phased out nonylphenol’s use from detergent in these countries long time ago, India has prohibited the use of nonylphenol in cosmetic products (2009), but there is “no regulation on its use in surfactants or other consumer products”, the study says, adding, “Further, there is no public information available on the possible impacts of the chemical and to minimize the risks associated with it.”
The study states, concerns have been raised about nonylphenol's potential to cause carcinogenic effects on the human body. It says, "Since the chemical has been classified as an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) and is found to be having a number of reproductive and hormonal effects on the exposed humans, it has been detected in human breast milk, blood, and urine and is associated with reproductive and developmental effects in rodents."
It says, "Studies have established the linkage of nonylphenol with cancer", adding, "It can enhance the progression of cancer. A study has concluded that the presence of nonylphenol induces the cells and increases the chances of colon cancer."Pointing out that the "World Health Organization in its risk assessment of nonylphenol."
The study, conducted by the Toxics Link – an Indian environmental research and advocacy organization engaged in disseminating information to “help strengthen” the campaign against toxics pollution, provide cleaner alternatives and bring together groups and people affected by this problem -- in association with the Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati, has found existence of nonylphenol in all the samples of detergent, river and lake water.
“There has been no study conducted in India so far and it’s the first-of-its-kind report to bring the presence and toxicity impacts associated with nonylphenol into the public domain. There is an urgent need for developing stringent regulations to restrict the entry of NP into the environment and human body”, said Satish Sinha, associate director, Toxics Link.

Some key findings of the study are:

  • nonylphenol was found in very high quantity in all the detergent samples;
  • the concentration of nonylphenol was found in detergent samples ranging from 0.25 weight percent (wt%) to 11.92 wt%; 
  • nonylphenol was detected in notably high quantity in all the river samples; 
  • nonylphenol concentration was found to be 14.76 ppm in Garh Ganga; 
  • the highest level of nonylphenol was found in the water sample from the Bandi river in Rajasthan i.e. 41.27 part per million (ppm); and 
  • despite many corporations claiming that they don’t use nonylphenol, the study confirmed the presence of high quantity of the chemical in the products sold by their Indian subsidiaries. 
Nonylphenol is known to be an endocrine disrupting chemical which is hazardous to the environment and human health besides also posing a threat to aquatic life and other fauna, the study says. The chemical has also been found to have a number of adverse reproductive and hormonal effects on human beings and can cause carcinogenic effects on the human body.
Considering its harmful effects, nonylphenol has been highly regulated by many countries globally,
The United States, European Union and even China have phased out nonylphenol from detergent completely, it says. Further Denmark has completely banned the use of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) in textile and leather industries and the EU has restricted the use of NPEs in products and product formulations to 0.01% in textile and other industries.
Efforts are being made to restrict the use of the chemical in drinking water. Canada has set the standard of nonylphenol at 1.0 microgram per liter (µg/L) in freshwater while the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established water quality criteria for nonylphenol at 6.6 µg/L for acute exposures and 1.7 µg/L for chronic exposures says the study.
“Despite nonylphenol being a toxic chemical it was found in very high concentration in all the detergents samples that were tested. It is also a matter of grave concern that high concentration of nonylphenol in river water samples can cause irreversible harm to aquatic organisms,” says Piyush Mohapatra, senior programme coordinator, Toxics Link.
The Bureau of Indian Statistics (BIS) has set the standard of phenolic compounds for drinking water (0.001 mg/L) and surface water (5.0 mg/L).However unlike other countries India does not have specific standards for nonylphenol in drinking water and surface water.
In the Toxics Link study the concentration of nonylphenol was found to be as much as eight times more than the prescribed BIS standard for phenolic compounds and over 100 times as compared to the US EPA safety standard for water quality criteria.
The study has proposed the following recommendations:
  • Banning the use of nonylphenol in all detergents;
  • Creating an inventory on the usage of nonylphenol in different sectors in the country; 
  • Introducing standards on nonylphenol in drinking water and in food to protect human health and the environment; and 
  • Initiating legal action against the companies for practicing double standards based on the polluter pay principle.
---
Click HERE for the study report

Comments

TRENDING

ISKCON UK 'clarifies' after virus infects devotees, 5 die due to big temple meet

By Rajiv Shah
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), United Kingdom (UK), has admitted that at least 21 of its devotees were infected because of the spread of the coronavirus amongst the UK devotee community following the March 12 funeral and March 15 memorial of the Bhaktivedanta Manor temple president, in which about 1,000 people participated. Regretting that five of the devotees have passed away, the top Hindu religious in Britain body does not deny more may have been infected.

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.