Nonylphenol and Its Ethoxylates in Water Environment

Main Article Content

Kouakou Yao Salomon
N’doufou Gnosseith Huberson Claver
Akpo Kouakou Sylvain


Endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), including Alkylphenols and their ethoxylates, precisely Nonylphenol and its ethoxylates, are organic molecules that are of greatest current concern because of their ability to have a toxic or an inhibitory effect on living organisms by their presence or accumulation in environment such as water, sediments, soils and atmosphere. They are used in the production of surfactants, industrial formulations, pharmaceuticals, personal care products etc... The primary objective of this article is to review the literature concerning classification of Nonylphenol and its ethoxylates based on physical and chemical characteristics and technical feasibility of their usages. It also involved different ways of their introduction into environment, analytical methods (HPLC, GC-MS, GC-MS-TOF) for their environmental detection and quantification, and finally methods for their removal. Technologies proposed for nonylphenol and its ethoxylates degradation includes biodegradation, physical processes, conventional and non-conventional adsorption-oriented processes and photodegradation processes including photocatalytic oxidation which have a potential to reach complete mineralization.

Nonylphenol ethoxylates, wastewater, chromatographic analyses, degradation.

Article Details

How to Cite
Yao Salomon, K., Gnosseith Huberson Claver, N., & Kouakou Sylvain, A. (2019). Nonylphenol and Its Ethoxylates in Water Environment. Journal of Geography, Environment and Earth Science International, 23(4), 1-14.
Review Article


Japan Environment Agency, JEA. SPEED’98/JEA-Strategic Programs on Environmental Endocrine Disruptors; 1998.

Maguire RJ. Review of the persistence of nonylphenol and nonylphenol ethoxylates in aquatic environments. Water Quality Research Journal of Canada. 1999;34(1): 37-38.

Danish Environmental Protection Agency, Danish EPA. Environmental and Health Assessment of Substances in Household Detergents and Cosmetic Detergent Products; 2002.

Routledge EJ, Sumpter JP. Estrogenic activity of surfactants and some of their degradation products assessed using a recombinant yeast strain, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 1996;15:241-248.

Blom A, Ekman E, Johannisson A, Norrgren L, Pesonen M. Effects of xenoestrogenic environmental pollutants on the proliferation of a human breast cancer cell line (MCF-7), Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. 1998;34(3):306-310.

Parsons SA, Williams M. Advanced oxidation processes for water and wastewater treatment. IWA Publishing, London, UK. 2004;1-6.

Canadian Environmental Protection Act, CEPA. Priority substances list assessment report. Nonylphenol and its Ethoxylates. 1999;1-98.

Hellyer YP. EPA’s chemical testing program. Nonylphenols in general, 4-nonylphenol in particular. In: Proceedings of the Seminar on Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPE) and Nonylphenol (NP), Saltsjobaden, Sweden. Ingvar Bingman, Stockholm. 1991;13–21.

European Chemicals Bureau, ECB. European Union Risk Assessment Report: 4-nonylphenol (branched) and nonylphenol: Final report; 2002.

Environment Canada. Notice respecting the second Priority Substances List and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate. Canada Gazette, Part I. 1997;366–368.

Environment Canada. Canadian Environmental Quality Guidelines for Nonylphenol and its Ethoxylates (Water, Sediment, and Soil). Scientific Supporting Document. Ecosystem Health: Sciencebased Solutions Report No. 1-3. National Guidelines and Standards Office, Environmental Quality Branch, Environment Canada, Ottowa; 2002.

Dachs J, Van RD, Eisenreich S. Occurrence of estrogenic nonylphenols in the urban and costal atmosphere of the lower hudson river estuary. Environ. Sci. Technol, 1999;33:2676-2679.

Ahel M, Giger W, Koch M. Behaviour of alkylphenol polyethoxylate surfactants in the aquatic Environment-I. Occurrence and transformation in sewage treatment. Water Research. 1994;28:1131-1142.

Maki H, Masuda N, Fujiwara Y, Ike M, Fujita M. Degradation of alkylphenol ethoxylates by Pseudomonas sp. strain TR01. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 1994;60: 2265-2271.

Heinis LJ, Knuth ML, Liber K, Sheedy BR, Tunell R, Ankley GT. Persistence and distribution of 4-nonylphenol following repeated application to littoral enclosures. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 1999;18:363-375.

Milinovic J. Interaction of alkylphenols and alkylphenol ethoxylates with sewage sludges and soils European master in quality in analytical laboratories universitat de Barcelona. 2010;51.

Soap and Detergent Association. Alkylphenol ethoxylate. 1999;13.

Talmage SS. Environmental and human safety of major surfactants: Nonionic surfactants. alcohol ethoxylates and alkylphenol ethoxylates, lewis publishers. Ann Arbor, MI. 1994;2:374.

Ahel M, Giger W, Molnar E, Ibric S, Ruprecht C, Schaffner C. Nonylphenolic chemicals revisited in Switzerland: Monitoring waste water effluents and ambient waters before and after risk reduction measures, abstract of paper presented at the meeting of the American Chemical Society, Boston, MA; 1998.

Blackburn MA, Waldock MJ. Concentrations of alkylphenols in rivers and estuaries in England and Wales, Water Res. 1995;29(7):1623-1629.

Kouakou YS, Zhang CS, Akpo KS, Wang YX, Liao XP2. Determination of nonylphenol and its ethoxylates by HPLC 1100 in water environment of Taiyuan City. International Journal of Environment and Climate Change. 2019;9(11):660-670.

Naylor CG. Environmental fate of alkylphenol ethoxylates. Soap/Cosmetics/ Chemical Specialties. 1992;68(8):27-32.

Bennie DT, Sullivan CA, Lee HB, Maguire RJ. Alkylphenol plolyethoxylate metabolites in Canadian sewage treatment plant waste streams, Water Qual. Res. J. Canada. 1998;33(2):231-252.

Marcomini A, Capel PD, Giger W, Hani H. Residues of detergent-derived organic pollutants and polychlorinated biphenyls in sludge-amended soil, Natumissenschaften. 1988;75:460-462.

Procter & Gamble. Use of Nonylphenol and Nonylphenol Ethoxylates in P&G Products; 2005.

England DC, Bussard JB. Toxicity of nonylphenol to the midge Chironomus tentans. Analytical Bio-chemistry Laboratories, Inc. Report No. 40597. Chemical Manufacturers Association, Washington, DC; 1993.

Fay AA, Brownawell BJ, Elskus AA, McElroy AE. Critical body residues in the marine amphipod Ampelisca abdita: Sediment exposures with nonionic organic contaminants. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2000;19:1028-1035.

Gray M, Metcalfe C. Induction of testis-ova in Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes) exposed to p-nonylphenol. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. 1997;16(5): 1082.

Jobling S, Sumpter JP. Detergent components in sewage influent are weakly oestrogenic to fish: An in vitro study using rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) hepatocytes, Aquatic Toxicology. 1993;27: 361-372.

Environment Canada, Ottowa, Environment Canada. Nonylphenol and Its Ethoxylates: Priority Substances List Assessment Report. Minister of Public Works and Government Services. 2002.

Sumpter JP, Jobling S. Vitellogenesis as biomarker for estrogenic contamination of the aquatic environment. Environ. Health Perspect. 1995;103:173-178.

Richardson S. Disinfection by-products and other emerging contaminants in drinking water, Trends in Analytical Chemistry. 2003;22(10):666-684.

US-EPA, EPA. Method 552.1-Determination of haloacetic acids and dalapon in drinking water by ion exchange liquid-solid extraction and gas chromatography with electron capture detector, Cincinnati; 1992.

US-EPA, EPA. Method 552.2-Determination of haloacetic acids and dalapon in drinking water by liquid-liquid extraction, derivatization and gas chromatography with electron capture detector, Cincinnati; 1995.

Quintana JB, Carpinteiro J, Rodriguez I. Analysis of pharmaceuticals as environmental contaminants - analysis of acidic drugs by gas chromatography, in analysis, fate and removal of pharmaceuticals in the water cycle, Barcelo D, Ed., Elsevier Science. 2007; Chapter 2,5:185-218.

Cancho B, Ventura F, Galceran M, Diaz A, Ricart S. Determination, synthesis and survey of iodinated trihalomethanes in water treatment processes. Wat. Res. 2000;34(13):3380-3390.

Greter J, Jacobson CE. Unirary organic acids: Isolation and quantification for routine metabolic screening. Clin chem. 1987;33(4):473-480.

Adkonis RM, Wolska L, Namieśnik J. Modern techniques of extraction of organic from environmental matrices. Critic. Rev. Anal. Chem. 2003;33:199.

Camel V. Solid phase extraction of trace elements. Spectrochimica Acta B. 2003;58:1177-1233.

Yu J, Wu C, Xing J. Development of new solid-phase microextraction fibers by sol–gel technology for the determination of organophosphorus pesticide multiresidues in food. J. Chromatogr A. 2004;1036:101-111.

Diaz A, Ventura F, Galceran MT. Development of a solid-phase micro-extraction method for the determination of short-ethoxy-chain nonylphenols and their brominated analogs in raw and treated water. Journal of Chromatography A. 2002;963:159-167.

Ferenc AZ, Biziuk M. Solid phase extraction technique -trends, opportunities and applications Polish J. of Environ. Stud. 2006;15(5):677-690.

Norman KTN, Sean WP. Supercritical fluid extraction and quantitative determination of organophosphorus pesticide residues in wheat and maize using gas chromatography with flame photometric and mass spectrometric detection. J Chromatogr A. 2001;907(1-2):247-255.

Kataoka H. Recent advances in solid-phase microextraction and related techniques for pharmaceutical and biomedical analysis current pharmaceutical analysis. 2005;1:65-84

Pawliszyn J. Solid phase micro-extraction: Theory and practice, Wiley-VCH, New York; 1997.

Blau K, Halket JM. Handbook of derivatives for chromatography, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester; 1993.

Ysambertt F, Subero N, Chavez G, Bravo B, Bauza R, Marquez N. Molecular weight and EON distribution of industrial polyethoxylated surfactants by high performance size exclusion chromate-graphy separation science and technology. 2005;40:829-843.

Cohen A, Klint K, Bowadt S, Persson P, Jonsson JA. Routine analysis of alcohol and nonylphenol polyethoxylates in wastewater and sludge using liquid chromatography electrospray mass spectrometry. J Chromat A. 2001;927(1-2): 103-110.

Jandera P. Methods for characterization of selectivity in reversed-phase liquid chromatography: IV. Retention behavior of oligomers series. J. Chromatogr A. 1988;449:361-389.

Shao B, Hu JY, Yang M. Determination of nonylphenol ethoxylates in the aquatic environment by normal phase liquid chromatography–electrospray mass spectrometry Journal of Chromatography A. 2002;950:167–174.

Jeannot R, Sabik H, Sauvard E, Dagnaca T, Dohrendorf K. Determination of endocrine-disrupting compounds in environmental samples using gas and liquid chromatography with mass spectrometry Journal of Chromatography A. 2002;974:143–159.

Ahel M, Giger W. Determination of alkylphenols and alkylphenol mono and diethoxylates in environmental samples by High Performance Liquid Chromatography. Analytical chemistry. 1985;57(8):1577-1583.

Ahel M, Giger W,Molnar-Kubica E, Schaffner C. Analysis of organic water pollutants. Angeletti G, Bjorseth A, Eds; Reidel ; Dordrecht, Holland. 1984;260-288.

Holt MS, Mitchell GC, Watkinson RJ. The handbook of environmental chemistry, Part F, Springer Verlag, Berlin. 1992;3:89.

Garti N, Kaufman VR, Aserin A. Nonionic surfactants: Chemical analysis. Marcel Dekker, New York. 1987;Ch. 7.

Belfroid AC, Van der Horst A, Vethaak AD, Schafer AJ, Rijs GBJ, Wegener J, Cofino WP. Analysis and occurrence of estrogenic hormones and their glucuronides in surfaces water and wastewater in Netherlands. Sci. Total Environ. 1999;225: 101-108.

Buser HR, Poiger T, Muller MD. Occurrence and environmental behavior of the chiral pharmaceutical drug ibuprofen in surface waters and in waste water. Environ. Sci. Technol. 1999;33:2529-2535.

Jahnke A, Gandrass J, Ruck W. Simultaneous determination of alkylphenol ethoxylates and their biotransformation products by liquid chromatography/ electrospray ionisation tandem mass spectrometry. J. Chromatogr A. 2004; 1035:115-122.

Di Corcia A, Cavallo R, Crescenzi C, Nazzari M. Occurrence and abundance of dicarboxylated metabolites of nonylphenol polyethoxylate surfactants in treated sewages. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2000;34: 3914-3919.

Loos R, Hanke G, Eisenreich SJ. Multi-component analysis of polar water pollutants using sequential solid-phase extraction followed by LC–ESI-MS. J. Environ. Monit. 2003;5:384–394.

Hayashi S, Saito S, Kim JH, Nishimura O, Sudo R. Aerobic biodegradation behavior of nonylphenol polyethoxylates and their metabolites in the presence of organic matter. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2005;39(15):5626-5633.

Maki H, Masuda N, Fujiwara Y, Ike M, Fujita M. Degradation of alkylphenol ethoxylates by Pseudomonas sp. strain TR01. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 1994;60(7):2265-2271.

Junghanns C, Moeder M, Krauss G, Martin C, Schlosser D. Degradation of the xenoestrogen nonylphenol by aquatic fungi and their laccases. Microbiology. 2005; 151:45–57.

Lu J, Jin Q, He Y, Wu J, Zhang W, Zhao J. Biodegradation of nonylphenol polyethoxylates by denitrifying activated sludge. Water research. 2008;42:1075-1082.

Liu Z, Phillips JB. Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography using an on-column thermal modulator interface. J. Chromatogr. Sci. 1991;29:227-231.

Phillips JB, Beens J. Comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography: A hyphenated method with strong coupling between the two dimensions. J. Chromatogr A. 1999;856(1-2): 331–347.

Harynuk J, Gorecki T, Zeeuw DJ. Overloading of the second-dimension column in comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography. J. Chromatogr A. 2005;1071(1-2):21-27.

Murphy RE, Schure MR, Foley JP. Effect of sampling rate on resolution in comprehensive two-dimensional liquid chromatography. Anal. Chem. 1998;70(8):1585-1594.

Liu X, Tani A, Kimbara K, Kawai F. Metabolic pathway of xenoestrogenic short ethoxy chain-nonylphenol to nonylphenol by aerobic bacteria, Ensifer sp. strain AS08 and Pseudomonas sp. strain AS90. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2006;72:552–559.

Teurneau B. Biodegradation of nonylphenol ethoxylates. Master Thesis in Chemical Engineering at the Department of Biotechnology at Lund University. 2004;49.

Giger W, Brunner PH, Schaffner C. 4-Nonylphenol in sewage sludge: Accumulation of toxic metabolites from nonionic surfactants. Science. 1984;225: 623–625.

Harms HH. Bioaccumulation and metabolic fate of sewage sludge derived organic xenobiotics in plants. Science of the total Environment. 1996;185:83-92.

Sjostrom AE, Collins CD, Smith SR, Shaw G. Degradation and plant uptake of nonylphenol (NP) and nonylphenol-12-ethoxylates (NP12EO) in four contrasting agricultural soils. Environmental Pollution. 2008;156:1284-1289.

Horikoshi S, Watanabe N, Onishi H, Hidaka H, Serpone N. Photodecomposition of a nonylphenol polyethoxylate surfactant in a cylindrical photoreactor with TiO2 immobilized fiberglass cloth. Appl. Catal. B: EnViron. 2002;37(2):117-129.

Potarsky K. Tratamiento de efluentes liquidos conteniendo nonilfenol por metodo biologico. Degree Thesis, Universidad de General San Martın, San Martın, Argentina; 2004.

Instituto Argentino de Normalizacion y Certificacion (IANC) “Agentes Tensioactivos: Determinacion del grado de biodegradabilidad ultima” IRAM 25610; 1994.

Oppenlander T. Photochemical Purification of Water and Airs AdVanced Oxidation Processes (AOPs): Principles, Reaction Mechanisms, Reactor Concepts; Wiley-VCH: New York; 2003.

Pera-Titus M, Molina GV, Banos MA, Gimenez J, Espulgas S. Degradation of chlorophenols by means of advanced oxidation processes: A general review. Applied Catalysis B-Environmental. 2004;47:219-256.

Sherrard KB, Marriott PJ, Gary Amiet R, McCormick MJ, Colton R, Millington K. Spectroscopic analysis of heterogeneous photocatalysis products of nonylphenol- and primary alcohol ethoxylate nonionic surfactants. Chemosphere. 1996;33(10):1921-1940.

Destaillats H, Hung HM, Hoffmann MR. Degradation of alkylphenol ethoxylate surfactants in water with ultrasonic irradiation. EnViron. Sci. Technol. 2000;34:311-317.

Vinodgopal K, Ashokkumar M, Grieser F. Sonochemical degradation of a poly-disperse nonylphenol ethoxylate in aqueous solution. J. Phys. Chem. B. 2001;105:3338-3342.

Ihos M, Manea F, Iovi A. Removal of Nonylphenol Polyethoxylate by Electro-chemical Oxidation at Modified SnO2 Electrodes. Chem. Bull. “POLITEHNICA” UniV. Timis¸oara. 2008;53(67):1-2.

Hyunook K, Guisu P, Myongjin Y, Eunjung K, Youngkook H, Colosimo MK. Oxidation of nonylphenol in water using O3. Res. J. Chem. Environ. 2007;11(2):7-12.

Kitis M, Adams CD, Daigger GT. The effects of Fenton’s reagent pretreatment on the biodegradability of nonionic surfactants. Water Res. 1999;33(11):2561–2568.

Chen L, Zhou H, Deng Q. Photolysis of nonylphenol ethoxylates: The determination of the degradation kinetics and the intermediate products. Chemosphere. 2007;68(2):354-359.

Neamt UM, Frimmel FH. Photodegradation of endocrine disrupting chemical nonylphenol by simulated solar UV-irradiation. Sci. Total EnViron. 2006;369:295-306.

Kouakou YS, Zhang CX, Wang YX, Liao XP, Li JL. Experimental degradation of Nonylphenol (Endocrine Disruptor) by using ultraviolet irradiation in the presence of hydrogen peroxide. Water Environment Research. 2014;86(8):759-767.

Schrank SG, Jose HJ, Moreira RFPM, Schroder HF. Applicability of Fenton and H2O2/UV reactions in the treatment of tannery wastewaters Chemosphere. 2005;60:644-655.

Amin H, Amer A, Fecky AE, Ibrahim I. Treatment of textile waste water using H2O2/UV system. physicochemical problems of mineral processing. 2008;42: 17-28.

Gursoy BH, Tureli G, Hanci TO, Alaton IA. Phototchemical advanced oxidation of textile surfactant solutions using H2O2/UV-C and photo-fenton processes: A case of study with nonylphenol ethoxylae. 11th conference on Environmental Science and Technology, Chania, Crete Greece. 2009;396-403.

Fuente L, Acosta T, Babay P, Curutchet G, Candal R, Litter MI. Degradation of nonylphenol ethoxylate-9 (NPE-9) by photochemical advanced oxidation technologies. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 2010; 49:6909–6915.

Gultekin I, Ince NH. Synthetic endocrine disruptors in the environment and water remediation by advanced oxidation processes. Journal of Environmental Management. 2007;85:816–832.

Wang L, Sun HW, Wu YH, Huang GL, Dai SG. Photodegradation of nonylphenol polyethoxylates in aqueous solution. Environ. Chem. 2009;6:185–193.