Document Type



Over the last two decades, nonylphenols (NPs) have become to be known as a priority hazardous substance due primarily to its estrogenicity and ubiquitous occurrence in the environment. Nonylphenols are commonly treated as a single compound in the evaluation of their environmental occurrence, fate and transport, treatment or toxicity. However, technical nonylphenols (tNPs) are in fact a mixture of more than 100 isomers and congeners. Recent studies showed that some of these isomers behaved significantly differently in occurrence, estrogenicity and biodegradability. The most estrogenic isomer was about 2 to 4 times more active than tNP. Moreover, the half lives of the most recalcitrant isomers were about 3 to 4 times as long as those of readily-biodegradable isomers. Negligence of NP's isomer specificity may result in inaccurate assessment of its ecological and health effects. In this review, we summarized the recent publications on the analysis, occurrence, toxicity and biodegradation of NP at the isomer level and highlighted future research needs to improve our understanding of isomer-specificity of NP.


Environmental Health and Protection | Geology


© 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

Originally published by Environment International