Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology of Polychlorinated n-Alkanes

  • G. T. Tomy
  • A. T. Fisk
  • J. B. Westmore
  • D. C. G. Muir
Part of the Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology book series (RECT, volume 158)


Polychlorinated-n-alkanes (PCAs) or chlorinated paraffins consist of C10to C30n-alkanes with chlorine content from 30% to 70% by mass. PCAs are used as high-temperature lubricants, plasticizers, flame retardants, and additives in adhesives, paints, rubber, and sealants. This review presents the existing data on the environmental chemistry and toxicology of PCAs and a preliminary exposure and risk assessment. There is limited information on the levels, fate, or biological effects of PCAs in the environment. This results both from the difficulty associated with quantifying PCAs, because of the complexity inherent to commercial formulations, and from the limited knowledge of their physicochemical properties and biodegradation rates. There are indications that PCAs are widespread environmental contaminants at ng/L levels in surface waters and ng/g (wet wt) levels in biota. However, environmental measurements of PCAs are very limited in the U.S. and Canada, and are only slightly more detailed in western Europe. Assuming that reported water concentrations are mainly caused by the short chain (C10--C13) compounds, aquatic organisms may be at risk from exposure to PCAs. Fugacity level II modeling for two representative PCAs, using the best available physicochemical property data and estimated degradation rates, suggested that C16H24C110would achieve higher concentrations in biota, sediment, and soil than C12H2OC16because of slower degradation rates and lower water solubility. Environmental residence time of C16H24C110is estimated to be 520 d compared to 210 d for C12H20C16. Future studies will require better analytical methods and reference materials certified for PCA content. Additional data are needed to evaluate exposure of biota to PCAs in the environment, particularly in light of their continued production and usage around the globe.


Rainbow Trout Sewage Sludge Short Chain Environment Canada Carbon Chain Length 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. T. Tomy
    • 1
  • A. T. Fisk
    • 2
  • J. B. Westmore
    • 3
  • D. C. G. Muir
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Fisheries and OceansFreshwater InstituteWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Department of Soil ScienceUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  4. 4.National Water Research InstituteEnvironment CanadaBurlingtonCanada

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