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    Use of Microcosms versus Conventional Biodegradation Testing for Estimating Chemical Persistence

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    Extrapolation of laboratory biodegradation data to the field is critical in assessing the environmental fate of a chemical. Laboratory systems used to evaluate biodegradation may vary from simple river or lake die-away tests to complex microcosms. The relative merits of rate data derived from systems of widely varying complexity have long been a subject of discussion. Data obtained from studies utilizing simple screening tests and microcosms containing sediment and natural water are presented and compared. Among the chemicals tested are biphenyl, linear alkylbenzene sulfonates, and phthalate and phosphate esters. Results suggest that pertinent biodegradation rate data can be obtained from relatively uncomplex test systems. Potential concerns about the environmental fate of test chemicals raised in simpler biodegradation tests could be addressed by specific environmental monitoring for existing chemicals rather than testing in more complex systems.


    biodegradation, microcosms, phthalate esters, phosphate esters, biphenyl, linear alkylbenzene sulfonates

    Author Information:

    Carson, DB
    Monsanto Company, St. Louis, MO

    Saeger, VW
    Monsanto Company, St. Louis, MO

    Gledhill, WE
    Monsanto Company, St. Louis, MO

    Committee/Subcommittee: E47.04

    DOI: 10.1520/STP20098S