What is Triton X 100?

Triton X 100 also known as Octylphenol ethoxylate is a non-ionic surfactant used in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector. One purpose of Triton X 100 is to breakdown the membrane of living cells to extract proteins. The chemical is also used for various industrial applications including removing viruses from vaccines and as a detergent in pharmaceutical applications.

Triton X 100 vs Octyphenol extholylate

Triton X 100 which is part of the substance group 4 – (1,1,3,3 tetramethylbutyl) phenol ethoxylated also known as 4-tert-OPnEO. The chemical degradation by-products have endocrine disrupting properties that can have damaging effects on humans and the aquatic environment.

The other names that Triton X 100 goes by can be seen below:

  • Octylphenol ethoxylate;
  • Octylphenol Decaethylene Glycol Ether;
  • t-Octylphenoxypolyethoxyethanol;
  • Polyethylene glycol tert-octylphenyl ether
  • Why Triton X 100 is banned?

    Triton X 100 was first initially listed as a chemical of high concern in 2016 based on its endocrine disrupting properties. Research has shown the substance is dangerous due to it breaking down easily into octyphenol which is a toxic chemical that can be very persistent in the environment.

    The European parliament has now restricted the use of Triton X 100 and has placed the substance into the Annex XIV of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REECH). This means the substance cannot be used or placed on the market after the sunset date which was January 4th, 2021.

    Authorisation was granted to some applicants to allow them to continue to use Triton X 100. However, those who are authorised to use the substance now need to entirely remove Triton X 100 from their wastewater to comply with the current regulations.

    Triton X 100 danger to the Environment

    Triton X 100 belongs to the substance group 4 – (1,1,3,3 tetramethylbutyl) phenol, ethoxylated and are part of a group of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC). Triton X 100 banned in the EU due to it being an EDC, it is evident it can have damaging impact on livestock and wildlife. The chemical degrades into octylphenol and can cause severe pollution in freshwater if not properly treated.

    How to use Triton X 100 after its ban by REACH

    As from January 4th 2021, the use of Triton X 100 was banned and can now only be used by those who hold an exemption certificate, but on the condition that they reduce Triton X 100 from their wastewater down to trace levels. Companies now will need to adopt in an efficient industrial wastewater treatment system for Triton X 100 removal, this is to prevent the toxic chemical from being released into the environment.

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    Water Treatment Consultant

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