Sign up to receive email updates, action alerts & health tips from EWG. [Privacy]

» in Manufacturing

Down the Drain: » in Manufacturing

July 12, 2007

Hormone-disrupting chemicals are used in the manufacture of a multitude of consumer and industrial products. Reformulating products and adapting manufacturing processes can help to reduce exposures to these chemicals.

•We tested wastewater from manufacturers of adhesives, beverages, paper products, pharmaceuticals, and plastic bags.
•We detected 4 of 5 phthalates.
•We detected bisphenol A.
•We detected triclosan.

Hormone-disrupting contaminants were detected in Manufacturing Wastewater (parts per billion)

 

  Pharma-
ceuticals
Plastic Bags Paper Products Beverages Adhesives
Phthalates
DEP ND ND ND ND ND
DBP 0.58 0.36 ND ND 120
BBzP 0.27 2.3 0.14 ND 39
DEHP 0.99 49 6.8 ND 47
DOP ND 10 ND ND ND
Bisphenol A 0.295 ND 0.753 ND ND
Triclosan ND 6.69 ND ND ND

Estimated Value

 


More Information:

 

Phthalates in manufacturing

We detected 4 of 5 phthalates in wastewater from facilities that manufacture pharmaceuticals, plastic bags, paper products, and adhesives. Studies show phthalates are common contaminants of people as well as streams and rivers (Kolpin 2002; CDC 2005; Wolff 2007).

Phthalates are used to make a broad range of products:

 
– Adhesives
– Blood-product storage
– Car-care products
– Carpet
– Cosmetics & personal care products
– Detergent
– Electronics
– Enamels/glass
– Food containers
– Fragrance
– Home & garden products
– Industrial/lubricating oils
– Inks & Dyes
– Insecticides & insect repellants
– IVs
– Nail polish
– Packaging film
– Paint
– Paper
– Pill coatings
– PVC & flexible plastics
– Rubber
– Rubbing alcohol
– Stains & texture coatings
– Toys
– Varnish, sealants, lacquer
– Vinyl-flooring products
– Windshield cleaners

To reduce exposures to phthalates from manufacturing:

  • If you own or work in a manufacturing facility that produces a product containing phthalates, investigate the possibility of reformulating the product to eliminate these chemicals.
  • Check your facility for other products that may contain phthalates – for example, vinyl tubing, or housekeeping chemicals listing "fragrance" as an ingredient – and replace them with phthalate-free alternatives.
  • As a consumer, you can reduce the market for products containing phthalates by purchasing phthalate-free alternatives.

Bisphenol A in manufacturing

Bisphenol A (BPA) may be found in many everyday products. We detected bisphenol A in wastewater from 2 facilities, one that manufactures pharmaceuticals, and one that manufactures paper products. Bisphenol A is commonly detected in people, and in streams and rivers (Kolpin 2002; Calafat 2005; Wolff 2007).

  • Bisphenol A is used to make polycarbonate plastics – those labeled with plastic number 7 ("Other" type of plastic) or with the letters "PC" below the recycling symbol. Bisphenol A leaches out of these types of materials.
  • Bisphenol A is used to make a plastic epoxy coating, called BADGE, that is applied to the inside of food and beverage cans to keep food from reacting with the metal of the can. This coating appears as a solid color on the inside of the can, and can leach into the food stored inside.
  • BPA is used in a variety of industrial products, most of which result in little exposure for the general population. However, worker exposures in these settings could be a concern for the smaller number of people with on-going, high level exposures. These might include plastics manufacturing for mobile phone housings, displays, computer parts, household electrical equipment, lamp fittings, automotive plastics, thermal paper, and printing inks (CERHR 2006).

To reduce exposures to bisphenol A in manufacturing:

  • If you own or work in a manufacturing facility that produces a product containing bisphenol A, investigate the possibility of reformulating the product to eliminate this chemical.
  • Check your facility for other products that may contain bisphenol A – for example, anything made of polycarbonate plastic – and replace them with BPA-free alternatives. This is especially important for polycarbonate equipment exposed to heat, acidic or basic solutions, or soaps and detergents – such conditions increase the leaching of bisphenol A into water and other fluids in contact with the plastic.
  • As a consumer, you can reduce the market for products containing bisphenol A by purchasing BPA-free alternatives.

Triclosan in manufacturing

Triclosan may be found in "antibacterial" soaps, detergents, and other sanitizing products that may be used in manufacturing facilities. We detected triclosan in wastewater from a facility that manufactures paper bags. Triclosan is commonly detected in people, and in streams and rivers (Adolfsson-Erici 2002; Kolpin 2002; TNO 2005; Wolff 2007).

To reduce exposures to triclosan from manufacturing:

  • Avoid unnecessary use of "antibacterial" products.
  • Switch to disinfection products that do not contain triclosan.
  • Use an alcohol hand rub instead of a product containing triclosan for hand and skin disinfection.