chemical information


Chemical Class:


Chemical SubClass


Manufacturing/Use Status

there are no restrictions on the production/use in the U.S.

Found in these people:

Anonymous Adult 18

Found in these locations:

Alamo, CA

Exposure routes:

Cosmetics, detergents, carpet and dry cleaning, pesticides, paper, dust control, paints and coatings.


Nonylphenols are industrial surfactants and detergents, widespread in use for more than 40 years, and are added to hundreds of industrial and consumer products for carpet and dry cleaning, pesticides, paper manufacturing, paints and coatings (Dow Chemical 1995-2006). Common exposure to nonylphenol sources for the general population are via cosmetics, household cleaners and paints.

Nonylphenols have been shown to have estrogenic properties in human cell lines and laboratory animals (Paris 2002). Chicken embryos exposed to low doses of nonylphenol and other typical endocrine disruptors showed visible cellular damage, including structural changes to developing neurons, damage to plasma mitochondria, cell shrinkage and breakage of the plasma membrane (Pretorius 2006).

Human trophoblast cells (cells surrounding the fetus at very early gestation) may be highly responsive to the estrogenic effects of nonylphenol (Bechi 2006). Nonylphenol has been shown to reduce the sperm counts in male offspring of rats exposed during pregnancy and during lactation (McClusky 2006).

As of January 2005, The European Union has classified Nonylphenols as a reproductive hazard. Their use in European cosmetics and other products was prohibited at levels above 0.1 percent by weight (EU 2003).

The CDC detected nonylphenol in about half of 371 urine samples collected from US adults between 1988-1994 (Calafat 2005). It was also detected in about half of 27 umbilical cord blood samples from newborns in the Netherlands (TNO 2005). The concentrations in cord blood were typically greater than those in urine.

Also widely detected in surface water, the USGS found nonylphenols in half of the 139 streams sampled in the United States in 2002 (Kolpin 2002).


Surfactants in cosmetics, household cleaners, and other products. Toxic to wildlife. Reproductive toxins.

Nonylphenol has been found in 1 of the 19 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies.

Top health concerns for Nonylphenol (References)

health concern or target organ weight of evidence
Endocrine systemlimited

Results for Nonylphenol

in blood serum (wet weight)

Showing results from EWG/Commonweal Study #7, consumer product chemicals in adults and teens

EWG/Commonweal results

  • found in 1 of 19 people in the group
ng/g (wet weight) in blood serum 3.3

Nonylphenol results

Detailed toxicity classifications (References)

classification governing entity/references
Endocrine disruptor - suspected or limited evidenceBechi, N. (2006). "Estrogen-like response to p-nonylphenol in human first trimester placenta and BeWo choriocarcinoma cells." Toxicol Sci 93(1): 6.