Chemosphere 2020 Nov 31;258:127242. Epub 2020 May 31.
The Procter and Gamble Company, Cincinnati, OH, USA. Electronic address:
Polycarboxylate polymers have been common components of consumer and institutional cleaning products for decades. With interest heightened in the potential environmental impact of polymers, the American Cleaning Institute, the industry trade association of the cleaning products industry in the United States, is reassessing the state of the science regarding the environmental safety of polymers in cleaning products. In this case study, acrylic acid homopolymers and acrylic acid-maleic acid copolymers are evaluated using historical ecotoxicity data that have been reported over the past three decades. The evaluation includes an environmental exposure assessment that is based on recent information regarding the occurrence of those ingredients in cleaning products and market sales data for cleaning products sold in the United States. The ecotoxicity of polycarboxylate polymers is generally low. Consequently, the potential environmental risks associated with their use in cleaning products in the United States are low even when applying very conservative assumptions to the environmental exposure assessment. In addition, there are recent supporting conclusions from assessments by the governments of Australia and Canada that polycarboxylate polymers are polymers of low concern, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has included a number of polycarboxylate polymers among the ingredients on its Safer Chemical Ingredients List based on their low hazard profile.