12 May 2020

Is the Arrhenius-correction of biodegradation rates, as recommended through REACH guidance, fit for environmentally relevant conditions? An example from petroleum biodegradation in environmental systems

Biodegradation is a major determinant of chemical persistence in the environment and an important consideration for PBT and environmental risk assessments. It is influenced by several environmental factors including temperature and microbial community structure. According to REACH guidance, a temperature correction based on the Arrhenius equation is recommended for chemical persistence data not performed at the recommended EU mean surface water temperature. Such corrections, however, can lead to overly conservative P/vP assessments.

In this paper, the relevance of this temperature correction is assessed for petroleum hydrocarbons, using measured surface water (marine and freshwater) degradation half-time (DT50) and degradation half-life (HL) data compiled from relevant literature. Stringent screening criteria were used to specifically select data from biodegradation tests containing indigenous microbes and conducted at temperatures close to their ambient sampling temperature.

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