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Drinking water across the nation contains ‘high levels of the toxic chemical’ ; Report

Nationwide research found significant amounts of the hazardous toxin nonylphenol in drinking water. Drinking water samples from various parts of India were gathered for the study and delivered to Shriram Institute of Industrial Research in New Delhi for testing. A borewell water sample from Bathinda had the highest quantity of toxic chemical (80.5ppb) out of 1,000 samples tested.

Nonylphenol has been identified as a chemical of global concern by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and is a recognised endocrine disruptor and hazardous substance. Daily consumption through drinking water might have negative health consequences for residents. NPEs are employed as surfactants as well as in everyday consumer items such as detergents, wetting agents, and dispersants.

Nonylphenol, or NPE, is a chemical found in detergents sold in India, with the highest concentration determined to be 11.92 percent. NPEs may also be discharged during industrial cleaning procedures and wastewater generated during the manufacture of them. The highest concentration was found in significant amounts in all of the river and lake samples evaluated in that research.

The Bureau of Indian Criteria (BIS) in India has established standards for phenolic compounds in drinking water (1 ppb) and surface water (5 ppm). However, there are currently no nonylphenol standards in drinking and surface waters in India. No rules exist in the nation to limit or phase out the use of NPEs in detergents and other consumer items.

‘The presence of nonylphenol in drinking water is a severe problem for human health, and it will necessitate extensive research and the development of appropriate nonylphenol in drinking water regulations.  This action would help ensure water quality and the availability of clean drinking water for residents,’ said Satish Sinha, Associate Director of Toxics Link.


  • Nonylphenol was discovered in all samples at values ranging from 29.1 to 80.5 ppb. The highest percentage was identified in tap water from a borewell in Bathinda (80.5 ppb), while the lowest was reported in tap water from government supply water in Indraprastha, New Delhi (29.1 ppb)
  • Nonylphenol concentrations in the drinking water samples ranged from 58.861.5 ppb. Two samples were filtered (61.5 ppb in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh and 58.8 ppb in Sancole, South Goa) and one sample was RO-treated (61.1 ppb in Bhatinda, Punjab)
  • The amounts of nonylphenol in water samples were 29 to 81 times higher than the BIS limit for phenolic chemicals in drinking water (1 ppb). These results are much higher when compared to the US EPA’s freshwater quality criterion safety requirement.


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