Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) are surfactants used as inert ingredients in pesticides and spray adjuvants. NPEs and their biodegradation intermediates [low mole ethoxylates and ether carboxylates (NPEC)] enter the terrestrial and, to a lesser extent, the aquatic environments through these uses. Nonylphenol (NP) is the basic building block of NPEs and can be a minor biodegradate. Responding to proposed water quality limits in the United States and Canada, the Alkylphenols & Ethoxylates Research Council initiated the NPE Environmental Management Program (EMP). The program, discussed in this paper, includes the development of voluntary, risk-based water quality levels for NPE, NP, and NPEC, and monitoring of waterways to determine whether water quality guidelines are being met; it also provides technical expertise to determine appropriate control methods. The approaches used in the EMP are applicable for most organic compounds and should be an integral component of best management practices.
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