Environmental Chemistry Letters

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 303–312 | Cite as

n-Octyl esters of long-chain fatty acids are not anthropogenic pollution markers

  • Niko S. RadulovićEmail author
  • Dragan B. Zlatković
Original Paper


n-Octyl esters of higher fatty acids have been reported as markers of urban wastewater in sediments, polychaeta, fish, crabs and oysters (Chaler et al. in J Chromatogr A 1046:203–210, 2004)). However, up to date, there were no subsequent studies to confirm this claim. Likewise, Chaler and co-workers did not consider that the mentioned compounds might occur naturally in the environment. Here we found seven n-octyl straight-chain alkanoates, from C-20 to C-26, in the wild-growing plant Heracleum sphondylium L., Apiaceae, from 14 locations. Those plant metabolites were unambiguously identified by gas chromatographic co-injection of the synthesized esters with the inflorescence washings. All identified octyl esters represent new natural compounds, except for octyl docosanoate. Since we have demonstrated that n-octyl esters occur naturally, and in abundance, they cannot be recognized any longer as wastewater markers. Additionally, here we provide evidences that the compounds identified by Chaler et al. (2004) are in fact 2-ethylhexyl esters, mistakenly identified as n-octyl esters.


n-Octyl esters 2-Ethylhexyl esters Wastewater markers Environmental analysis Heracleum sphondylium Wax 



Financial support of this work by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of Serbia is gratefully acknowledged (project no. 172061).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science and MathematicsUniversity of NišNisSerbia

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