November 2003


The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) approved a major health assessment that concluded that LAS is a low priority for further work, indicating that it is of low concern for human health. The assessment was accepted by an expert committee of OECD, which has 30 members including the European Union, the United States, Canada, European countries, Korea and Japan. The assessment was prepared by a consortium of 16 detergent and supplier companies (1), led by CLER, with the US Environmental Protection Agency as the sponsor country for the assessment. The OECD committee meeting, officially known as a SIDS (2) Initial Assessment Meeting (SIAM), was held November 11-14 in Arona, Italy.

An assessment of the environmental safety of LAS is being finalized by the industry consortium based on OECD member comments, and will be presented for review at one of the two OECD SIAM meetings scheduled next year. The assessment proposes that LAS is also a low priority for further work on environmental safety based on the extensive research already available.

The SIAM meeting is the key approval step in the OECD program to assess high production volume (HPV) (3) chemicals based on a required set of health and environmental data. For LAS, not only were all the requirements of the data set met, but extensive information was provided on potential exposure to LAS in cleaning product use. Members of the OECD committee complimented the LAS consortium on the extent and quality of the information provided.

LAB, the starting material used to make LAS, was reviewed at a SIAM meeting in 1995 and accepted as a low priority for further work based on the health and environmental data provided. LAB sulfonic acids, the immediate precursors to LAS, are currently being evaluated in the US HPV Challenge Program. Alkylate bottoms, a co-product of LAB manufacture, are being reviewed in the OECD SIDS program. Once these evaluations are conducted in the next one to two years, health and environmental assessments of the entire product chain for LAS manufacture will be completed.

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1 The members of the Industry Coalition for the EPA-OECD SIDS Assessment of LAS include: Cognis, Colgate, Dial, Huntsman*, Kao, Lion, Mitsubishi Chemical, Nippon Petrochemical, Petresa*, Procter & Gamble, Repsol-YPF*, Sasol North America*, Stepan, Tayca, Unilever, Venoco*. * indicates CLER members.

2 SIDS is an acronym for Screening Information Data Set and refers to the health and environmental data required by OECD for evaluation of any substance.

3 High production volume is defined as annual production in OECD member countries greater than 1000 metric tons, 2.2 million pounds.