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CAS Number: 104-40-5
Synonyms: 4-Nonylphenol, 4-n-Nonylphenol, NP, Nonylphenol, p-Nonylphenol, para-Nonylphenol
Contaminant Type: Chemical

4-Nonylphenol is used in a variety of pesticides and consumer products and is a common biodegradation product of nonylphenol ethoxylates used in detergents. [1537] 4-Nonylphenol mimics estrogen and is therefore an endocrine-disrupting compound. [1539, 1540]

4-Nonylphenol is commonly used as a raw material for making detergents, pesticides, anti-oxidants in plastics and rubbers, as a supplemental agent/stabilizer of polyvinyl chloride, as well as other uses. [1537, 1543] 4-nonylphenol in the aqueous environment originates predominantly from the incomplete biotransformation of nonylphenol polyethoxylate (NPEO) nonionic surfactants of various ethoxylate chain lengths. [1537, 1539, 1541] The major source of 4-nonylphenol in the environment is from treated wastewater effluent and land application of biosolids.

4-Nonylphenol is hydrophobic, relatively insoluble in water, and can persist and accumulate in sediments and sludge. [1540] It may take months or years to degrade in the environment.

4-Nonylphenol can bind to estrogen receptors and elicit estrogenic action in vivo and in vitro. [1539, 1541] 4-nonylphenol is reported to have a greater affinity for estrogen receptors in fish compared with humans. [1541] Tests in rats for reproductive effects of 4-nonylphenol over three generations confirmed both male (decreased epididymal sperm density and testicular spermatid head counts) and female (increased estrus cycle length and decreased ovarian weights) reproductive changes. [1541] 4-Nonylphenol can cause breast cancer cells to increase in number. [1547] Human exposure to 4-nonylphenol has not yet been evaluated. [1537] Exposure to 4-nonylphenol inhibits seed germination in some plants and growth of certain aquatic plants and algae. [1547]

There are no existing regulations for 4-nonylphenol in drinking water; nor is the compound listed as a candidate for future regulatory decision-making.

Residues of 4-nonylphenol have been reported in river water, groundwater adjacent to a contaminated river, seawater, tap water, sediments, and fish tissues. [1541, 1546] Concentrations of 4-nonylphenol in surface waters are in the range of 0.11 to 180 micrograms per liter. [1537] 

Date of last literature review: August, 2009.


1537 Tanghe, T., and Verstraete, W.; 2001; Adsorption of nonylphenol onto granular activated carbon; Water, Air, and Soil Pollution; 131:61-72
1539 Hyunook, K., Guisu, P., Myongjin, Y., Eunjung, K., Yungkook, H., and Mark F. C.; 2007; Oxidation of nonylphenol in water using O3; Res. J. Chem. Environ.; 11 (2): 7-12
1540 Kim, J., Korshin, G.V., Velichenko, A. B.; 2005; Comparative study of electrochemical degradation and ozonation of nonylphenol; Wat. Res.; 39: 2527-2534
1541 Hu, J., Xie, G., and Aizawa, T.; 2002; Products of aqueous chlorination of 4-nonylphenol and their estrogenic activity; Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry; 21 (10): 2034-2039
1543 Kuramitz. H., Saiotoh, J., Hattori, T., and Tanaka, S.; 2002; Electrochemical removal of p-nonylphenol from dilute solution using a carbon fiber anode; Wat. Res.; 36: 3323-3329
1546 Yu, Zirui; 2007; Analysis of selected pharmaceuticals and endocrine disrupting compounds and their removal by granular activated carbon in drinking water treatment; University of Waterloo; Doctoral dissertation, the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
1547 Cox, C.; 1996; Nonyl phenol and related chemicals; Journal of Pesticide Reform; Vol 16, No.1