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EC number: 205-582-1
CAS number: 143-07-7
Fatty acids are ubiquitous and dynamic
in the environment and are completely metabolised in water and soil by
microorganisms. Fatty acids occur in the environment both naturally and
from the use by man. Microbial metabolism is the primary route of
degradation in the environment and fatty acids are an integral part of
the cell membranes of every living organism from bacteria and algae to
higher plants and animals. Each of these organisms contains fatty acids
also as part of their food reserves and they also consume fatty acids to
produce energy required for anabolic and catabolic metabolism.
In water fatty acids are abiotically
stable (OECD SIDS, 2009). Based on the ready biodegradability and
molecular structure (aliphatic, mostly saturated carbon chains)
hydrolysis is not a relevant degradation pathway and thus was not
tested. Modelled data on the photodegradation in air are available for
aliphatic fatty acids of C8-C22 carbon chain length. The data show a
decreasing photodegradation half-life with increasing chain length.
Unsaturated fatty acids undergo photolysis faster than saturated. The
half-life declines with the number of double bounds. The calculated
half-lives are in the range of 15.4 hours for octanoic acid (C8) to 5.7
hours for octadecanoic acid (C18) (OECD SIDS, 2009).Direct
photolysis is not expected to contribute appreciably to the overall
breakdown rate in water and soil, since the environmental degradation of
these substances is predominantly of biotic nature.
The data set for
biodegradation includes standard biodegradation studies as well as data
obtained by QSAR. As summarized in the category justification, the
members of the fatty acid category demonstrates ready biodegradability.
The vast majority of the experimental results revealed ready
biodegradability which was supported by reliable QSAR predictions. The
consistent positive test results over the whole category supersede
single negative results. In conclusion, aliphatic fatty acids comprising
C8-C22 carbon chain length are judged to be readily biodegradable. This
judgment is consistent with the hazard assessment presented in the OECD
SIDS (2009) for the category “Aliphatic Acids Category” where aliphatic
fatty acids with a carbon chain length in the range of C8 – C22 were
described to be readily biodegradable.
to sediment and soil is shown for fatty acids starting at a chain length
of 12 and higher indicated by a Koc value of approximately 500 for
lauric acid (C12). Accordingly, fatty acids with a shorter chain length
partition mainly to the water phase. The members of the fatty acids
category with chain length greater than 14 have a low potential of
mobility in soil based on high Koc values and low water solubility.
Volatilisation is not expected to be a significant transport process or
dissipation route for fatty acids in the environment.The
log Pow of fatty acids are in the range of 1.57 to 9.91. This suggests
that some fatty acids may tend to bioconcentrate in the environment.
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