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Environmental fate & pathways

Biodegradation in soil

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Description of key information

Sub-surface sediments were incubated with trichloroethylene (50 mg/l), and with either methanol or propane for 10-30 days.

Key value for chemical safety assessment

Half-life in soil:
61.3 d
at the temperature of:
293 K

Additional information

Trichloroethylene is degraded in soil in the presence of anaerobic cultures. However, 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, trichloroethylene degrades by a process of reductive dehalogenation, resulting in the formation of lower chlorinated homologues as reaction products. Although metabolites are known to occur, the terminal product of reductive dehalogenation is ethylene.