Aquatic environment

Abiotic degradation of four phthalic acid esters in aqueous phase undernatural sunlight irradiation

Ruttapol Lertsirisopon , Satoshi Soda , Kazunari Sei , Michihiko Ike


Received April 24, 2008,Revised June 17, 2008, Accepted , Available online

Volume 21,2009,Pages 285-290

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Abiotic degradability of four phthalic acid esters (PAEs) in the aquatic phase was evaluated over a wide pH range 5–9. The PAE solutions in glass test tubes were placed either in the dark and under the natural sunlight irradiation for evaluating the degradation rate via hydrolysis or photolysis plus hydrolysis, respectively, at ambient temperature for 140 d from autumn to winter in Osaka, Japan. The e ciency of abiotic degradation of the PAEs with relatively short alkyl chains, such as butylbenzyl phthalate (BBP) and di-nbutyl phthalate (DBP), at neutral pH was significantly lower than that in the acidic or alkaline condition. Photolysis was considered to contribute mainly to the total abiotic degradation at all pH. Neither hydrolysis nor photolysis of di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) proceeded significantly at any pH, especially hydrolysis at neutral pH was negligible. On the other hand, the degradation rate of diisononyl phthalate (DINP) catalyzed mainly by photolysis was much higher than those of the other PAEs, and was almost completely removed during the experimental period at pH 5 and 9. As a whole, according to the half-life (t1=2) obtained in the experiments, the abiotic degradability of the PAEs was in the sequence: DINP (32–140 d) > DBP (50–360 d), BBP (58–480 d) > DEHP (390–1600 d) under sunlight irradiation (via photolysis plus hydrolysis). Although the abiotic degradation rates for BBP, DBP, and DEHP are much lower than the biodegradation rates reported, the photolysis rate for DINP is comparable to its biodegradation rate in the acidic or alkaline condition.

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