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Environmental fate & pathways

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Abiotic degradation

Based on the physicochemical properties of chloroform it can be assumed that environmental chloroform will be mainly present in the atmosphere. The available data indicate that chloroform present in the atmosphere tends to undergo at least slow degradation; the reaction of the compound with OH-radical seems to represent the most efficient removal process. According rate constants for the reaction of chloroform with OH produce atmospheric half-lives between about 20 and 120 days (mean half-life of approximately 70 days).

The hydrolysis of chloroform may be neglected, as the associated half-lives are in the range of several years at pH nine and more than 1000 years at pH seven. However, the presence of dissolved organic matter may accelerate the degradation of dissolved chloroform resulting in an aquatic half-life of approximately 23 days, which is in the same range as that for reaction with OH-radical in air.

In conclusion, chloroform can be regarded as relatively resistant against abiotic degradation in the atmosphere and aquatic environment. Chloroform thus may be subject to transport over relatively long distances.