FWA-5 is a Fluorescent Whitening Agent (FWA)
mainly used in household detergents in concentrations ranging from 0,02 to 0,1%, and to a far lesser extent in textiles and paper.
An extensive research program has been conducted by the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH) and the chemical industry to characterise and assess the final fate and environmental risks of FWA-5.
It has been shown that DSBP-type FWAs undergo in aqueous system a rapid isomerization, followed by a photodegradation of >70% within 28 days. The two defined yielding photodegradation products are readily biodegradable according to OECD 301F.
Due to the comprehensive database it was possible to conduct Environmental Risk Assessments (ERA) with the default values of EUSES 1.0 as well as with a HERA specific detergent scenario and to compare with monitoring values from 18 Swiss and German rivers. All results in the calculated/measured environmental compartments (water, sediment, terrestrial, air) indicate PEC/PNEC ratios of well below 1. These findings were confirmed by the Dutch RIVM (Dutch National Environmental Protection Agency). The comparison of the EUSES defaults and HERA detergent scenario with monitoring data confirmed that the HERA detergent scenario is more conservative than monitoring but far closer to the measured values then EUSES default.
Exposure estimates from consumer product uses indicate the aggregate estimated FWA-5 internal exposure is 1.03 mg/day which is the Systemic Estimated Dose (SED) and accounts for all relevant dermal and oral exposures. Inhalation exposures are considered to be negligible. Considering the lifetime exposure of consumers to products containing FWA-5, the critical endpoint selected was from the lifetime feeding study in rats that indicated the relevant NOAEL is 190 mg/Kg/day.
The estimated human exposure to FWA-5 shows a Margin of Exposure of > 330000. Risk characterisation indicates this is an adequate difference to cover all uncertainties in the toxicology database and extrapolations and supports a conclusion that FWA-5 is not of concern for use in consumer products.
From the available data it can be concluded that FWA-5 as applied to detergent uses is not expected to result in adverse effects to humans or the environment.