Nonylphenol in Water By Jackie Fawcett & Michael Goldrich
Introduction In the last 40 years 450 million tons of Nonylphenol has been produced world wide, 150,000 tons in the U.S. alone. This chemical is extremely toxic and is bioaccumulative, accumulating over time in the tissues of living organisms rather than being evacuated in wastes. The chemical is mainly found in the U.S., Canada, and Europe where it has begun showing up in lakes and rivers.
Sources of Nonylphenol • Intermediate for Antioxidants for Rubber and Plastics • Phenolic Resins • Rubber Processing Chemicals • Polyvinyl Chloride Plasticizers • Antioxidant in the Manufacture of Polystyrene • Plastic Additives • Surfacants in Detergents • Plastic Centrifuge Tubes • Leached from PVC Tubes • Sewage Sludges
Chemical properties • 6% ortho-substituted, 94% para-substituted • Insoluble in Water • Soluble in Benzene, Chlorinated Solvents, Aniline, Heptane, Aliphilic Alcohols, and Ethylene Glycol • High Viscosity • Floats on Water
Affects on Animals & Humans • Estrogen-like compound, activating estrogen receptor sites in animals and reptiles • Induces cell proliferation and progesterone receptor in human estrogen-sensitive MCF7 breast tumor cells • Triggers mitotic activity in rat endometrium • Induces sex change in male fish • Influences ATPases and affects the calcium metabolism • Developmental toxicant to daphnids • Accumulates in the liver, gills, skin, gut, kidney, and fat tissues in trout
Sludge • High Concentrations in Sewage Compared to Other Contaminants (two order of magnitude higher than metals) • Nonylphenol in Stabilized Sewage Sludge Originates from Alkylphenol Polyethoxylates • Alkylphenol Polyethoxilates in Stabilized Sludge Further break down into Alkylphenols, which Accumulate in Digested Sludge • Consistently Found in Aerobically Stabilized Sludge
Wastewater Treatment • Detection can be Done using UV-vis Spectrophotometry, Gas Chromotography, and Mass Spectrophotometry • Photodegradeable, Half-Life of 10 to 15 Hours of Continuous Clear Sky, Noon Summer Sunlight in the Surface Layer of the Lake • Activated Carbon Very Effective because of High Porosity and Large Surface Area
Data • Adverse effects were observed at: • 10 micrograms/liter for zooplankton • 30 micrograms/liter for sediment dwellers • 300 micrograms/liter for fish • Half Life in Water is 1.2 days • Persistent in Sediments from 28 to 104 days
Conclusion Nonylphenol is a dangerous chemical with the potential to cause numerous environmental problems. Although there are means of detection, it is still very difficult to isolate and get rid of. Its affects on humans are not the only concern, but also its affects on wildlife and this should also motivated its restriction in means of disposal.