Their general formula is C9H19C6H4(OCH2CH2)nOH.
Each nonoxynol is characterized by the number (n) of
ethylene oxide units repeated in the chain; for example,
nonoxynol-9, nonoxynol-14. They are present in
detergents, liquid soaps, emulsifiers for creams, fabric
softeners, photographic paper additives, hair dyes,
lubricating oils, spermicides, and antiinfective agents.
They are irritants and sensitizers. Nonoxynol-6 was
reported as a sensitizing agent in an industrial hand
cleanser and in a crack-indicating fluid in the metal
industry. Nonoxynol-9 is the most commonly used, as
a preservative in topical antiseptics or in spermicides,
acting as a iodophor in PVP-iodine solutions.
Nonoxynol-10 was reported as a UVB-photosensitizer.
Nonoxynol-12 caused contact dermatitis in a domestic
cleaner who used a polish containing it.
Conceptrol (Ortho Pharmaceutical);
Emko (Schering-Plough HealthCare); Gynol II (Ortho
Pharmaceutical); Intercept (Ortho Pharmaceutical); Semicid
(Whitehall-Robins); Today Sponge (Whitehall-Robins).