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

Nobel laureates join international figures, seek release of Bhima Koregaon accused activists

Nobel laureates Olga Tokarczuk,  Wole Soyinka Counterview Desk  As many as 57 top international personalities, including Nobel laureates, academics, human rights defenders, lawyers cultural personalities, and members of Parliament of European countries, have urged the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of India to ensure immediate release of human rights defenders in India “into safe conditions”.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Russia, China to call the shots in Middle East, as Muslim nations turn into house of cards

By Haider Abbas* Only a naive would buy that the ‘situation of ceasefire’ between the State of Israel and Hamas would continue, as if the foiled attempt to demolish Al Aqsa this time, is not be repeated, if not in any near future then in sometime to come. Israel already has spurned the ‘ceasefire’ by storming Al Aqsa after the Friday prayers on May 21.

Collapse of healthcare system? Why 90% of Covid patients treated at home survived

By Bobby Ramakant, Sandeep Pandey* Well known Hindustani classical singer Padma Vibhu shan Channulal Mishra, chosen as one of the proposers of Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha elections, lost his wife and elder daughter to Covid in private hospitals in Varanasi. Younger daughter has accused Medwin Hospital of charging Rs 1.5 lakh for treatement of her sister and not being able to explain the cause of death. Pandit Channulal Mishra has asked for a probe into his daughter’s death from the Chief Minister. The family has also asked for the CCTV footage of the ward where deceased daughter was admitted for a week.

Modi-led regime 'contributed' 60% to rise of global poverty, yet Hindutva is intact

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* In recent years, the Hindutva politics has caused long term damage to India and Indians. The so called 56-inch macho PM, the propaganda master manufactures and survives all political crisis including the current mismanagement of the Coronavirus pandemic in India. In spite of deaths and destitutions, the social, cultural, economic and religious base of Hindutva is intact.

Hunger, lack of food security behind India's 'slip' in UN's sustainable development rank

By Dr Gian Singh*  According to a report released by the United Nations on June 6, 2021, India's ranking of achieving Sustainable Development based on the 17 Social Development Goals (SDGs) set by the 193 countries in the 2003 agenda, which was 115th last year, has slipped to 117th position this year. India ranks not only the lowest among the BRICS countries -- Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa but also below the four South Asian countries -- Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

Rooted in mistrust? Covid-19’s march into rural India is a very different ball game

By Sudhir Katiyar* As the Covid-19 virus penetrates rural India, the rural communities are responding very differently from their urban counterparts who rushed to the hospitals. The rural communities are avoiding the public health facilities and any mention of the disease. The note argues that this supposedly irrational response is based on a deep-seated mistrust of the state by the rural communities. It can not be resolved with routine Information, Education and Communication (IEC) measures suggested in the Government of India SOP for tackling Covid-19 in rural areas.

Courageous, in-depth attempt to confirm common spiritual values of Christ, Buddha

By RB Sreekumar, IPS*  All religions, both theistic and atheistic designed conceptual and practical architecture, for holistic and comprehensive elevation and enlightenment of humanity. PK Vijayan, in his novel “Nirvana of Jesus Christ” (Notion Press, 2020) through creative imagination portrayed personality evolution of the two progenitors of God-centric and sagaciously logical major religions – Jesus Christ of Christianity and Gautama Buddha of Buddhism.

Why hasn't Govt of India responded to US critique of freedom of religion under Modi?

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* About two weeks ago, on May 12, 2021, the US Secretary of State Antony J Blinken released in Washington the ‘2020 International Religious Freedom Report.’ This official annual report of the US Government details the status of religious freedom in nearly 200 foreign countries and territories and describes US actions to support religious freedom worldwide. Mandated by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, this report highlights the fact that ‘religious freedom is both a core American value and a universal human right’.