NPE, namely Nonylphenol ethoxylate is widely used in the application of industrial & institutional (I&I) cleaning, paints, oilfield chemicals, leather, textile, and agrochemical, usually work as wetting and dispersing agent. However, the surfactant will degrade into nonylphenol, which is considered to be an endocrine disruptor, and its toxic nature on the aquatic organisms along with increasing use of its substitutes make a declining trend in the demand of NPE.
The EU, Canada, USA, etc, are the forerunners who have effectively eliminated use of NP/NPE in most industrial and product sectors.
In 2012, USA EPA published eight alternatives for NPE in all-purpose cleaners, listed in the table below.They are safer while comparable to NPE in cost and performance.
Another surfactant I find it a ideal alternative to NPE is natural phenol ethoxylate, called cashew phenol ethoxylate, made from cardanol (or cashew phenol) and ethylene oxide. The emulsification of this surfactant is good, and it has a high degree of biodegradability. Plus, cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL, cardanol derives from CNSL) is of low cost and abundantly available.