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1 Department of Policy Analysis, National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University, Aarhus University 2 P&G 3 Department of Environmental Science - Environmental chemistry & toxicology, Department of Environmental Science, Science and Technology, Aarhus University 4 PFA 5 IME 6 UoW 7 Cognis 8 KAO 9 Sasol 10 ERMA 11 Department of Environmental Science - Environmental chemistry & toxicology, Department of Environmental Science, Science and Technology, Aarhus University
An environmental assessment of long-chain alcohols (LCOH) has recently been conducted under the OECD SIDS High Production Volume (HPV) Program via the Global International Council of Chemical Associations (ICCA) Aliphatic Alcohols Consortium. LCOH are used primarily as intermediates, as a precursor to alcohol-based surfactants and as alcohol per se in a wide variety of consumer product applications. Global production volume is approximately 1.58 million metric tonnes. The OECD HPV assessment covers linear to slightly branched LCOH ranging from 6 to 22 alkyl carbons (C). LCOH biodegrade exceptionally rapidly in the environment (half-lives on the order of minutes); however, due to continuous use and distribution to wastewater treatment systems, partitioning properties, biodegradation of alcohol-based surfactants, and natural alcohol sources, LCOH are universally detected in wastewater effluents. An environmental risk assessment of LCOH is presented here by focusing on the most prevalent and toxic members of the linear alcohols, specifically, from C12-15. The assessment includes environmental monitoring data for these chain lengths in final effluents of representative wastewater treatment plants and covers all uses of alcohol (i.e., the use of alcohol as a substance and as an intermediate for the manufacturing of alcohol-based surfactants). The 90th percentile effluent discharge concentration of 1.979 μg/L (C12-C15) was determined for wastewater treatment plants in 7 countries. Chronic aquatic toxicity studies with Daphnia magna demonstrated that between C13 and C15 LCOH solubility became a factor and that the structure-activity relationship was characterized by a toxicity maximum between C13 and C14. Above C14 the LCOH was less toxic and become un-testable due to insolubility. Risk quotients based on a toxic units (TU) approach were determined for various scenarios of exposure and effects extrapolation. The global average TU ranged from 0.048 to 0.467 depending on the scenario employed suggesting a low risk to the environment. The fact that environmental exposure calculations include large fractions of naturally derived alcohol from animal, plant, and microbially mediated biotransformations further supports a conclusion of low risk. © 2008.
Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 2009, Vol 72, Issue 4, p. 1006-1015
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