Also known as nonyl phenol ethoxylates (NPE's). Used in the production of: Paper, paint, epoxies, textiles, electronics and metal extraction. Commonly found as an ingredient in pesticides and detergents. It is added to both as an emulsifier, a dispersant and a wetting agent. You might also find it listed as an 'emulsifier' or 'nonionic surfactant' in products protected by the 'Trade Secret' laws.
Numerous studies show that NPE is a powerful ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR as it mimics the action of the female hormone estrogen. Some researchers suspect that environmental estrogen may contribute to breast cancer risk in women and lowered sperm count in men.
The European Union has banned the use of NPE's in cleaning agents because of its detrimental effect on wildlife. It is still widely used in the US even thought the EPA reports show that it is highly toxic to aquatic organisms and is highly irritating and corrosive to the human skin and eye. They state there is no data on its carcinogenic potential.