Chemicals and our work environment with specific reference around APE’s

In South Africa we are constantly becoming more aware of what chemicals can do to damage our environment, with the effect that certain messages that have been pouring out of Europe and elsewhere are finally starting to fall on receptive ears.

During the 1990’s a number of startling discoveries were being made in Europe and elsewhere that linked certain chemicals directly to worldwide trends in Human and Animal behavioural patterns. Not only were the cognitive links made to these trends, but further study and observation outlined the connections between chemical structures, influences on animal receptor sites and their effects on behavioural changes.

Some influences were seen to be direct cause-and-effect responses while others were seen to cause disruptive responses where physical attributes within the animal kingdom were being caused to change their dynamic towards systems such as the hormonal production in the endocrine system, thereby influencing from within, the behaviour of animals.

First seen widely in breeding responses of fish in the great European lakes and inland seas, it was noted that in certain regions there was an astounding drop-off in the number of hatchlings, which was then shown to relate to male fish not being interested in fertilizing the ova after laying. This was finally linked to a group of chemical surfactants called Alkyl Phenol Ethoxylates (APE’s).

It was found after further study that the APE’s, when being broken down in the environment, get to a point where they are able to effect an Oestrogen-like response upon the male fish, much like putting them all on “The Pill”.

In response to the above, European chemical companies quickly expanded the ranges and availability of Fatty Alcohol Ethoxylates, which can take the place of APE’s in detergent formulations, and which do not have similar bad effects with respect to their effect on the animal kingdom.

Lawmakers through Europe have effectively banned APE’s since 2004/2005.

Because law-making in Africa regarding chemicals has been lagging behind the patterns seen through Europe, the South African detergent producers have used the excuse of high pricing for not changing their formulations, although APE’s have been officially banned within our Agricultural Industry since 2010. Specifically, Nonylphenol, Octylphenol and their Ethoxylates have been banned from inclusion in Agricultural Remedies since 31 May, 2010.

Closer to home, it was assessed around 2010 that breeding patterns of both fish and mammalian species at Rietvlei Nature Reserve in Centurion/Pretoria were very erratic. Some people, including those with knowledge of the knock-on effect of industrial products that reach our waterways, put this down to APE’s, many of which run off from local farmland in the Rietvlei catchment area and are able to “pollute” the dam water.



Other chemicals that are commonly used to produce detergents and cleaning materials that can be harmful, include Butyl Oxitol (Synonyms include: Oxitol EB, N-Butyl Cellosolve, Oxysol BE, Dowanol EB, Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether and more). Although played down over many years, this product is now recognised by most industry stalwarts as being a likely Carcinogen, probably involved in Liver and Kidney cancers, and also has been fingered as a Teratogen, potentially causing deformities in unborn children due to damage done to the foetal-DNA in the womb.

Various Phthalates, Aromatic Solvents, some Amine products and some Sulphated/Sulphonated products.

Components that are often frowned upon because of their knock-on effect in the environment include Phosphates and Nitrates in various forms, as these can cause runaway brooms of vegetative growth, including hyacinth and algal species of plant matter, which ultimately can spoil dams and waterways.

Additionally, products that contain salts of certain heavy metals or any already-recognised carcinogen, are highly disapproved of for inclusion into cleaning products nowadays. These include Nitrosamines.

In general, any formula that has not been relooked at during the last 10 to 20 years is almost definitely out-of-date and almost certainly will contain components that are these days no longer acceptable for use.

The above is a fairly brief overview of unfavourable chemicals but includes the most commonly used ones that have gone out of vogue during the past 30 years.

It is for the above reasons that we adopt the recognized international standards of using environmental blends to substitute these harmful and dangerous materials.

In our care for the perpetual user of our products we refrain from using any of the above and are committed to the health and care of both the environment and the worker.



KEML Nonylphenol Restrictions

CEFAS Report on Endocrine Disruption in Flounder Fish (UK)

Pthalates and Nonylphenols in Roskilde Fjord