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Environmental risk assessment of hydrotropes in the United States, Europe, and Australia



An environmental assessment of hydrotropes was conducted under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Screening Information Data Sets (SIDS) for High Production Volume (HPV) Program via the Global International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) Hydrotropes Consortium. The assessment and its conclusions were presented at a meeting of the OECD member countries in Washington, DC in 2005. The SIDS Initial Assessment Report (SIAR) was accepted by the membership. Their conclusion was “The chemicals in this [hydrotropes] category are of low priority for further work because of their low hazard profile.” Hydrotropes are used to solubilize the water-insoluble ingredients of cleaning and personal care products including, for example, powder and liquid laundry detergents, hard-surface cleaners, machine dishwashing rinse aids, hand dishwashing liquids, body washes, shampoos, hair conditioners, and liquid hand and face soaps. Global production equals approximately 46 500 metric tons, a little more than half of which is used in the United States. The 8 chemicals accounted for in the “hydrotropes category” include ammonium, Ca, K, and Na salts that are described by 10 Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) registration numbers. The 8 chemical entities are generally comparable and predictable in their chemical behavior and that measured and/or modeled data for members from one subgroup can be applied to other subgroups and to the hydrotropes category as a whole. The assessment is based on a search for and evaluation of available data on physical–chemical properties, biodegradability, removal by wastewater treatment, and aquatic toxicity. Reliable ecotoxicity and environmental fate data were found for selected members of the category. Partitioning, once released into the environment, and exposure in surface waters were modeled for consumer use and manufacturing scenarios relevant to the United States, Europe, and Australia. The models indicate 99+% of the hydrotropes will partition to water. Furthermore, given the low potential for hydrotropes reaching the terrestrial environment and their lack of persistence or bioaccumulation, the focus of the assessment is on the aquatic environment, specifically the water compartment. Aquatic risks were assessed in each scenario using what is referred to as the PEC/PNEC ratio. The modeled predicted environmental concentration (PEC), accounting for volume released and wastewater treatment, is divided by the predicted no effect concentration (PNEC) derived from the aquatic toxicity tests. The closest a predicted environmental concentration came to the toxicity threshold is 0.125 (or 12.5% of the no effect concentration) and that is for a hypothetical manufacturing facility that produces the entire annual volume of hydrotropes and discharges to a small (10%ile) stream under low flow (7Q10) conditions. PEC/PNEC ratios were considerably smaller for consumer use scenarios. The ratios were 0.0002 for a low flow (7Q10) stream scenario in the United States, 0.026 to 0.089 for regional and local water bodies, respectively, in Europe, and 0.004 to 0.036 for oceans and rivers, respectively, in Australia. In conclusion, aquatic hazard levels are not expected to be reached under exaggerated conditions of manufacture or normal consumer use of hydrotropes. Hydrotropes are neither persistent nor bioaccumulative in the environment. Integr Environ Assess Manag 2010; 6:155–163. © 2009 SETAC