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Environmental fate & pathways

Biodegradation in water and sediment: simulation tests

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Description of key information

Trichloroethylene was not degraded in marine water under aerobic conditions. Trichloroethylene is biotransformed by freshwater sediment microbiota,  and the anaerobic transformation seems to occur more readily in the presence of other substrates. 

Key value for chemical safety assessment

Half-life in freshwater sediment:
73.1 d
at the temperature of:
298 K

Additional information

Trichloroethylene was not degraded in marine water under aerobic conditions. Trichloroethylene is biotransformed by freshwater sediment microbiota, and the anaerobic transformation seems to occur more readily in the presence of other substrates.  Trichloroethylene can also be degraded under aerobic conditions by a process of co-oxidation when other suitable co-substrates (methane, propane, toluene, phenol) are also present to support growth of the microorganisms and induce the formation of enzymes which due to their broad substrate specificity, can also degrade trichloroethylene.

There is extensive work which shows that under anaerobic conditions,trichloroethylenedegrades by a process of reductive dehalogenation, resulting in the formation of lower chlorinated homologs as reaction products. Although metabolites are known to occur, the terminal product of reductive dehalogenation is ethylene.