Endocrine disrupter use falls in Norway

Government reports "gratifying" 30% cut in alkylphenol use, stresses need for more work

The Norwegian government has reported a fall of 30% in the use of alkylphenols and alkylphenol ethoxylates (APs and APEs), following measures taken to reduce the use of chemicals that can have hormone disrupting effects. The State Pollution Control Authority (SFT) says the decline from 1995 levels stems directly from formulation in 1996 of a government black-list of 90 known or suspected endocrine disrupters.

At that time the government announced that APs and APEs in particular would be phased out by 2000. Relevant industries were subsequently required to file annual reports on their use of the compounds. Product groups identified as priorities included car-care products, detergents and cosmetics. For other industrial categories, including water-based paints, the SFT encouraged studies of alternative substances.

SFT director Håvard Holm, described the 30% decline as "gratifying". "There is still a great deal of work to be done before endocrine disrupters are totally out of use," he said, "but the various companies have clearly taken this work seriously, and the figures show that this kind of cooperative approach can get results." The authority would keep up its pressure on industry and would step up the frequency of progress reports on the phase-out, he added.

According to the SFT, annual use of APEs and APs fell from 613 to 413 tonnes between 1995 and 1997, and they have now been phased out in sealants and in Norwegian-produced PVC (polyvinyl chloride plastic). In some products used by the oil and process industries, quantities had been halved, and in many detergents use had been cut by a third.

The government's figures have been questioned by the Norwegian conservation group Bellona. A 1993 survey by Bellona showed that the SFT had underestimated the use of endocrine disrupting chemicals by a factor of seven to eight, Christian Rostock of the group told the national newspaper Dagsavisen Arbeiderbladet.

In any case, phasing out the compounds was "a much more extensive task than the SFT has let on," he said. The use of alkylphenols in contraceptives was a particularly serious problem because the compounds were likely to enter the bloodstream directly, he added.

Follow Up:
SFT, tel: +47 22 57 34 00.

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