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EC number: 204-000-3
CAS number: 112-72-1
Discussion of trends in the Category
of C6-24 linear and essentially-linear aliphatic alcohols:
There is very substantial and convincing
evidence in support of rapid and complete biodegradation /
biotransformation by a range of organisms (bacteria, fungi, algae, fish
and mammals) and in a range of environmental media and conditions
(particularly aquatic and water/sediment systems) for members of the
C6-24 Alcohols category.
Predicted data from the SRC BIOWIN v4.10
program (part of the EPIWeb suite v4.01) supports rapid degradation for
the linear alcohols, but cannot be used quantitatively. However, the
extent of measured data means that it is not necessary to rely upon any
form of (Q)SAR: interpolation to fit data gaps can be done by expert
judgement across the data set.
A range of screening and simulation data
with different types of cultures is available and discussed in this
section. The data consistently show that linear and essentially linear
aliphatic alcohols in the range C6 - C24 are readily biodegradable in
standard screening studies, rapidly and extensively biodegraded under
aerobic and anaerobic conditions, biodegradable by garden soil inoculum,
biodegraded by algae and aquatic microorganisms in long-term aquatic
ecotoxicity tests, and biodegraded in sediments in several studies.
Biodegradation under anaerobic conditions
The anaerobic biodegradability of a range of
chain lengths within the category has been investigated (C8 and C16
alcohols, 2 studies; and C16-18 and C18 unsaturated alcohols, 2
studies). All test substances were anaerobically degradable.
Biodegradation by algae
degradation in water is indicated by the difficulties encountered in
aquatic toxicity tests (chronic Daphnia reproduction) for long
chain aliphatic alcohols (Section 6.1.4). Alcohols in the range C10-C15
were found to be rapidly removed from the test medium. This was
attributed to metabolism by algae present as a food source in tests, and
in later stages of the 21-day tests to bacterial degradation by microbes
adsorbed onto the carapace of the test daphnids, despite daily cleaning
of the animals.
is important for context to note the findings from studies in the EU and
US which consistently show that anthropogenic alcohols in the
environment are minimal compared to the level of natural occurrence.
Using stable isotope signatures of fatty alcohols in a wide variety of
household products and in environmental matrices sampled from river
catchments in the United States and United Kingdom, Mudge et al. (2012)
estimated that 1% or less of fatty alcohols in rivers are from waste
water treatment plant (WWTP) effluents, 15% is from in situ production
(by algae and bacteria), and 84% is of terrestrial origin. Further, the
fatty alcohols discharged from the WWTP are not the original fatty
alcohols found in the influent. While the compounds might have the same
chain lengths, they have different stable isotopic signatures (Mudge et
conclusion, the environmental impact of these studies is that it has
confirmed that the fatty alcohols entering a sewage treatment plant (as
influent) are partly derived from detergents, but these are not the same
alcohols as those in the effluent which arise from in-situ bacterial
synthesis. In turn, 99% or more of the fatty alcohols found in sediments
near the outfall of the WWTP are derived from natural synthesis and are
not the same alcohols as those in the effluent.
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