From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Nonoxynols are mixtures of nonionic surfactants used as detergents, emulsifiers, wetting agents, defoaming agents. The most commonly discussed compound nonoxynol-9 is a spermatocide, formulated primarily as a component of vaginal foams and creams. Nonoxynol was found to metabolize into free nonylphenol when administered to lab animals. [1] Arkopal-N60, with on average 6 ethylene glycol units is a related used surfactant.


These compounds are produced by ethoxylation of alkylphenols. The precursor nonylphenol is derived from phenol and a mixture of nonenes.

Toxicity concerns[edit]

Concerns about the environmental impact of these compounds has increased since the 1990s. These surfactants have a mild to medium estrogenic function.[2] Consequently, this class of detergents has been effectively restricted for commercial "down-the-drain" applications in Europe, and these compounds are no longer used by U.S. laundry manufacturers.[3]

A 2011 investigation found residual levels of nonylphenol ethoxylates in samples of clothing from 14 brands sold in the U.S., including Adidas, Uniqlo, Calvin Klein, H&M, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lacoste, Converse and Ralph Lauren. [4][5]


  1. ^ Sonnenschein, Carlos, and Ana M. Soto. "An Updated Review of Environmental Estrogen and Androgen Mimics and Antagonists." The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 65.1-6 (1998): 143-50.
  2. ^ Comparison of protein expression in plasma from nonylphenol and bisphenol A-exposed Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and turbot (Scophthalmus maximus) by use of SELDI-TOF. Larsen Bodil K; Bjornstad Anne; Sundt Rolf C; Taban Ingrid C; Pampanin Daniela M; Andersen Odd Ketil International Research Institute of Stavanger (IRIS) AS, Mekjarvik 12, N-4070 Randaberg, Norway Aquatic toxicology (Amsterdam, Netherlands) (2006), 78 Suppl 1 S25-33.
  3. ^ "Going green", cover story in chemical and Engineering Letters, vol. 85, No. 5, January 2007
  4. ^ Heimbuch, Jaymi (2011-08-23). "Big-Brand Clothing Found Laced with Toxic Chemicals". TreeHugger. Retrieved 2013-02-09. 
  5. ^ "Dirty Laundry 2: Hung Out to Dry | Greenpeace Africa". 2011-08-23. Retrieved 2013-02-09. 

External links[edit]

  • J.K.G. Dondt, G. Gomppner, D. Richter (Eds) Soft matter: complex materials on mesoscopic scales - Schriften des Forschungszentrum Jülich, Vol. 10, 2002.