Siloxanes are, among other things, used in soaps and personal care products in order to make them easier to apply to the skin. Foto: iStock.

International pressure is reducing emissions

Classic environmental toxins are on the wane after imposition of international bans and regulations. The Norwegian Environment Agency wants to apply the same medicine against new environmental toxins. 

Substances with especially negative reviews in the yearly status report:

Siloxanes, D4 and D5, not regulated, used as binding agent, scent carrier in shampoo, lotion, etc.
Perfluorinated compounds, many different perfluorinated compounds are on the list, few are regulated, PFOS is regulated internationally, PFOA is regulated in Norway, perfluorinated compounds can possess properties that repel water and grease, for example use in all weather clothing
DEHP, a phthalate, is used as a softener in plastic, for example in imported cables and PVC flooring, regulated in toys and products for small children, on the list of substances that require approval before being used
Medium chain chlorinated paraffins, MCCP, not regulated, used as softener/flame retardant in plastic + used in jointing compound/insulating materials

Substances with especially positive reviews in the yearly status report:

Octyl/nonylphenols – previously much used in cleansers and car care products, however its use has been phased out due to restrictions in EU/REACH. Some use remains in paint and lacquer, but it has been significantly reduced.
PER and TRI – solvents used in industrial processes and textile cleaner, use/emission has been nearly phased out due to international regulation
Tensides – previously much used in fabric softeners, use nearly phased out due to regulation

The annual status report on environmental toxins confirms that emissions of classic dangerous substances are dropping after being subject to international regulations for a number of years.

Environmental toxins recognise no national boundaries

"The results highlight how important our international work is to the elimination of environmental toxins on the priority list," says Ellen Hambro, Director General of the Norwegian Environment Agency.

An overview of emissions of dangerous substances can be found here

See also: List of Priority Substances

The priority list, also referred to as the dangerous substances list, is Norway's list of prioritised environmental toxins. The national goal is for the use and emission of the substances on this list to be continually reduced, with the intent of completely halting their emission before 2020.

"Environmental toxins recognise no national boundaries. They end up in Norway via atmospheric and ocean currents, and especially via products that are manufactured in other countries. So national bans are not sufficient," says Hambro.

New victory

The Norwegian Environment Agency is thus prioritising international work on reducing emissions of new environmental toxins, and recently scored an important success.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has proposed banning siloxanes in the EU.

See also: Shampoo toxins may be banned in the EU (in Norwegian)

Siloxanes are, among other things, used in soaps and personal care products in order to make them easier to apply to the skin. Their use is particularly comprehensive, which in turn is confirmed by the emissions figures in the annual status report.

Comprehensive monitoring

The Norwegian Environment Agency has monitored the environment for a number of years for siloxanes and repeatedly found them in many different species ranging from Oslo Fjord to the Arctic.

Most recently, it was detected on Svalbard. A new report from the Norwegian Environment Agency's atmospheric monitoring at Zeppelin Mountain on Svalbard confirms last year's investigations: the levels of siloxanes in the air are between a hundred and a thousand times higher than for classic environmental toxins such as PCB, DDT, brominated flame retardants and perfluorinated compounds.

Click here to see how siloxanes end up on Svalbard (in Norwegian) 

The Norwegian Environment Agency's monitoring has comprised an important contribution to the EU's work on banning siloxanes.

"Without our data and Norwegian research, which is at the vanguard for environmental toxins, we would not have had sufficient evidence that siloxanes comprise a threat to the environment. Thorough and meticulous environmental monitoring has made it possible to progress this far in the work with regulation," says the Environment Agency's Director General Hambro.


The Norwegian Environment Agency is constantly working to have more international bans implemented against environmental toxins on the dangerous substances list.
"Among other things, we have proposed an EU ban against the environmental toxin PFOA, which is used in a range of products that include all weather jackets," states Hambro.

See also: Norway proposes EU ban against PFOA (in Norwegian)

Last year, the Norwegian Environment Agency and the ECHA also submitted a proposal to the EU to prohibit the brominated flame retardant decaBDE, which is hazardous to both human health as well as the environment.

"Work with the environment is an area where we have influence with the EU despite Norway not being a member. An important reason for this is the expertise we possess and the data we collect," says Ellen Hambro.


section leader Cecilie Kristiansen
product section
mobil phone: +47 932 57 185