Risk Assessments-executive summary
Substance Group: Alkyl Sulphate

Human Health Executive Summary

The use of household laundry and cleaning products containing Alcohol Sulphates (Alkyl Sulphates, AS) can result in exposure to AS. The skin is the predominant route of exposure to AS, however exposure from oral intake and inhalation are also considered in this risk assessment. Direct skin exposure occurs mainly in hand-washed laundry, laundry pre-treatment, hand dishwashing and surface cleaning tasks and to a smaller extent also from residues in fabric after the washing cycle. Consumers may be indirectly exposed to low levels of AS via the drinking water and food due to the potential environmental presence of AS. Residues deposited on eating utensils and crockery after hand dishwashing may be another source of oral exposure. The use of spray cleaners is also a potential source of exposure to AS through inhalation of aerosols generated by the sprayer. The calculated body burden of AS taking into account all routes of exposure and using highly conservative or worst-case assumptions is 5.93 g/kg bw/day.
Based on an extensive database, it has been shown that the toxicological properties of AS of different chain length covered in this risk assessment are qualitatively and quantitatively similar, justifying the decision to consider AS as a single category.
AS are of a low order of acute oral and dermal toxicity. AS are not genotoxic, mutagenic or carcinogenic, and there was no evidence of adverse effects on fertility, reproduction and development. AS are irritant to skin and eyes when applied neat or as a concentrated solution, however AS concentrations below 1% were essentially non-irritating to the human skin. The repeated-dose toxicity of AS was evaluated in several sub-acute, sub-chronic and chronic toxicity studies. In dermal and oral gavage studies AS caused local irritation at the site of first contact. The target organs for the systemic toxicity of AS are the liver and the kidney. The lowest NOAEL of AS was observed in a 90-day feeding study in the rat at a dose level of 61 mg/kg/day and was based on liver toxicity.
The comparison of the aggregate exposure and the systemic NOEL results in a Margin of Exposure of 10,100. Local dermal effects due to direct or indirect skin contact with AS containing solutions in hand-washed laundry, hand dishwashing or hard surface cleaning tasks are not of concern because AS is not a contact sensitiser and not expected to be irritating to the skin at in-use concentrations.
In summary, the human health risk assessment has shown that the use of AS in household laundry and cleaning detergents is safe and that consumer exposures are not of concern.