The public consultation on the proposal to restrict nonylphenol (NP) and nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE) under REACH Annex XVII has begun. The consultation runs for six months from 18 September 2013 to 18 March 2014. Comments received by 29 November 2013 will assist the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in their detailed discussion of the proposal in December.
The proposed restriction limits the contents of NP/NPE to less than 100 mg/kg of the textile in textile clothing, fabric accessories and interior textile articles that can be washed in water. As printed surfaces are seen as an integrated part of the textile materials themselves, the limit value includes prints that are colour pigments applied on the textile by various printing techniques. The proposal does not apply to articles that are not washable in water, such as leather articles.
The proposal provides a transition period of 5 years to allow the market to sell existing stock, inform and educate suppliers, and establish a system for control of compliance. As imported textiles articles are identified as a major source of NP/NPE emissions to the aquatic environment, the long transition period will also allow non-EU suppliers sufficient time to test and implement NPE alternatives.
If adopted, the restriction is expected to apply from 2019/2020, at which time official test methods for demonstrating conformity to the requirements will have been available. Table A below shows the details of the proposed restriction.
Table A. Detail information about proposed NP/NPE restriction under REACH Annex XVII
REACH Annex XVII
Date of Application
Nonylphenol ethoxylate (C2H4O)nC15H24O)
Textile clothing, fabric accessories and interior textile articles* that can be washed in water.
Underwear, nightwear, hosiery
Scarves, shawls, ties and handkerchiefs
Interior textile articles
Blankets, throws, mats and rugs
* "Textile articles" mean textile products as defined in Article 3.1 (a)-(f) of Regulation (EU) No 1007/2011 on textile fibre names and related labelling and marking of the fibre composition of textile products.
< 100 mg/kg of the textile, calculated in combination or alone of the substances.
(The standards adopted by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) shall be used as test methods for demonstrating the conformity.)
Estimated to be around late 2019 to early 2020.
Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) belong to the alkylphenol ethoxylate (APE) family of chemicals which have surfactant properties. NPEs are mainly used as detergent or emulsifying agent in various processes during the manufacture of textiles.
Nonylphenol (NP) are not used in the manufacturing of the textile, but are products generated from the degradation of NPEs which can happen during the manufacturing processes or in the waste water treatment plants.
Currently NP and NPE are restricted under REACH Annex XVII Entry 46 to 0.1% by weight as substances or in mixtures for use in textiles and leather processing. However, the restriction applies only to operations carried within the EU and therefore imported products are not affected. As the major part of NP/NPE that is estimated to be released from textile articles are imported into the EU, the restriction will achieve the main objective of reducing the concerns resulting from the presence of NP and NPE in the environment with regards to both the combined toxicity of NP and NPE, and the endocrine disrupting properties of NP. In addition, the proposal will provide a level playing field for both EU-made and imported textiles articles.