Alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs) are a group of chemicals that includes nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) and octylphenol ethoxylates (OPEs). They are chemicals of concern commonly used as surfactants in acrylic paint.
According to Healthy Building Network “NPEs and OPEs break down into nonylphenols and octylphenols, which are not readily biodegradable. NPEs, OPEs, and these breakdown products are very toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms. They are all also suspected endocrine disruptors, which interfere with hormones in the body. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nonylphenol has “been detected in human breast milk, blood, and urine and is associated with reproductive and developmental effects in rodents.” Source
For a complete list of alkylphenols and related compounds, see the list in Pharos.
Certifications that Prohibit APE Surfactants
Green Seal GS-11 standard has prohibited the use of APE surfactants since 2010.
Paint Brands that are Free of APES
Any of Benjamin Moore paints featuring the “Green Promise” designation are APEs free. This includes Benjamin Moore AURA, Regal Select, ben, Eco Spec, and Ultra Spec.
Home Depot has phased out alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), including nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) – from interior and exterior latex water-based paints sold in the U.S. and Canada since the end of 2019.
Sherwin-Williams Emerald and SuperPaint lines.
ECOS Paints a line of paints are all 0-VOC for interior and exterior applications.
AFM Safecoat, one of the first 0-VOC interior paint lines.
Mythic Paint, a 0-VOC interior paint that is a smaller brand and a fan favorite amongst the chemically sensitive.
APEs in Paint are Banned in the EU – this means all European brands are free of APEs including Farrow and Ball, Auro, Graphenstone, Kiem, and more.
Please see my article on non-toxic paints for more details and a comparison of all of these 0-VOC paint lines.