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Ecotoxicological information

Toxicity to aquatic algae and cyanobacteria

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In accordance with column 2 of REACH Annex VII, studies on toxicity to algae do not need to be conducted as iron oxides are inert,  and highly insoluble in water. Available data do suggest that iron salts are relatively non toxic and this was sufficient for the EU Classification and Labelling Committee to determine that there was no need for classification of iron salts. It was also concluded that iron massive and sparingly soluble forms of iron are highly insoluble and non-hazardous. Literary studies have extensively used test solutions with iron concentrations above that of its solubility limit. Due to physical effects of precipitated material some of these studies are meaningless for the investigation of intrinsic toxicity. Iron ions released to surface waters quickly form insoluble iron hydroxides in mixing zones. These positively charged iron (III) colloids will react with the negatively charge mucus that lines the fish gill. This accumulation of iron on the fish gill results in physical effects. Iron has complex redox chemistry. In very special conditions transient iron species can be formed that cause toxicity. These conditions however are not typical of most ambient conditions and are more representative of specific mixing zones. In ambient conditions, the dissolved natural background concentrations of iron, in most cases, are at equilibrium therefore an addition of iron would lead to the precipitation of iron compounds from solution and are therefore not intrinsically toxic. Therefore a PNEC is not required. More information can be found in the attached position paper and WCA report on the aqueous environmental chemistry of iron.

Key value for chemical safety assessment

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