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Are Surfactants Environmentally Friendly?

Nov. 24, 2022

Ingredients in cleaning products often contain surfactants because it is easy to remove stains and grease from a wide range of surfaces and materials. But surfactants are used in a wide range of applications, in addition to soaps and detergents, lubricants, inks, anti-fog solutions, weed killers, adhesives, emulsifiers, and fabric softeners. So, are surfactants environmentally friendly?





Safety Information

The Human and Environmental Risk Assessment Initiative (HERA) and its members have thoroughly reviewed several widely used surfactants to bring transparency to the risk assessment of cleaning products and the chemicals used to produce them. HERA found that these chemicals do not adversely affect the environment in their current use and issued their safety determination.


The study co-authored by the American Cleaning Institute analyzed more than 250 studies on the environmental properties and toxicity of four major classes of high-use surfactants widely used in personal care and cleaning products. The paper highlights research that the surfactant and cleaning product industries have supported over the years as part of their commitment to environmental sustainability, improving environmental tools and methods, and developing innovative approaches suitable for addressing the environmental properties of personal care and cleaning product chemicals. The study authors concluded that the risk assessment showed no adverse effects on the aquatic or sediment environment at current use levels, despite the very high use and widespread release of these substances into the aquatic environment.

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