Recommendations from the Alkylphenol
- The production of all alkylphenols and
their derivatives should be stopped as soon as possible. An immediate
ban should not present a problem to most industries. Any industries
which require time to modify their processes could be given a
couple of years to comply.
- Research should continue into evaluating
the human health and environmental significance of the oestrogenic
toxicity of alkylphenolic compounds. Safety levels for the sum
of all alkylphenolic compounds in drinking water, rivers and
estuaries must be rapidly established. The safety level for drinking
water is likely to be below 1 µg/1 (1 ppb).
- The National Rivers Authority should establish
standardised analytical methods for all alkylphenolic compounds.
Any analysis must measure alkylphenol ethoxylates (of all chain
lengths), alkylphenols and alkylphenoxy carboxylic acids.
- A thorough survey of UK rivers, and the
organisms within them, should be undertaken to establish the
levels of all alkylphenolic compounds. Levels in the human body
must also be established. All data obtained must be available
to the public.
- Drinking water in the UK should be analysed
for all alkylphenolic compounds, particularly if the drinking
water is extracted from a river. Extra treatment should be introduced
if the total alkylphenolic compound content is above the safety
- When the safety of chemicals is being
assessed, it is important to keep an open mind on possible mechanisms
of toxicity, and the literature should be searched for possible
biochemical effects of the compound under assessment, its metabolites
and similar compounds. The oestrogenic effects of para-alkylphenols
were established in 1938 - 6 years before the introduction of
alkylphenol ethoxylates in the UK. These effects were not connected
with alkylphenol ethoxylates until 1991 - 53 years later.
- A wide-ranging investigation is needed
into potential oestrogenic, immune system and nervous system
effects of man-made chemicals. This should include analysis of
past literature, and development of new toxicological assessment
procedures, using cell culture where possible. The study should
look first at any chemicals which can accumulate in fat, and
which are not easily metabolised. Chemicals that are only used
in small volumes, such as perfumes and colourants, may be able
to accumulate in fat, and should be included in any investigation.
This page was last
updated in October 1999
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