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Diss Factsheets

Ecotoxicological information

Short-term toxicity to aquatic invertebrates

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Administrative data

Link to relevant study record(s)

Description of key information

Acutely harmful to aquatic invertebrates

Key value for chemical safety assessment

Fresh water invertebrates

Fresh water invertebrates
Dose descriptor:
48 h
Effect concentration:
30.1 mg/L

Additional information

A static acute immobilisation study performed according to ASTM Standard E729-80 with Ceriodaphnia dubia as test organism was selected as key study (Cowgill et al., 1985). The 48-h EC50 was determined to be 30.1 mg/L.

The lowest reliable value for acute toxicity to Daphnia magna was reported from a static test according to US EPA Guideline 600/3-75-009 (LeBlanc, 1980). Based on nominal concentrations, the 48-h EC50 was 55 mg/l. However, since measured pH values ranged from 7.4 to 9.4, alkaline pH effects might have contributed to the observed mortality. 

In addition, the acute toxicity of diethanolamine to Daphnia magna was investigated in a 48-hour static test according to OECD TG 202. Based on nominal concentrations, the 48 hour EC50 was 171 mg/l (Zurita et al., 2005).

Further, the effect of diethanolamine on Hyalella azteca was studied according to an Environment Canada method (PTAC, 2006). 50 animals were exposed to a series of 5 test concentrations and observed over 96 h and dead neonates counted after 48 and 96 h. The 96-h LC50 was determined to be 344 mg/L (95% CL: 312 -377 mg/L; nominal, analytically verified).


Some of the studies were performed without analytical monitoring, however, from the available acute and chronic toxicity studies on fish, aquatic invertebrates and algae, conducted with analytical monitoring (PTAC, 2006; BASF AG, 1992, Rep. no 92/1444/51/1; Libralato, 2010), it can be deduced that diethanolamine is rather stable in static test systems for at least 48 hours. Moreover, the stability of diethanolamine in the test medium is considered to be stable due to the high water solubility (WS = 1E+06 mg/L), the low vapour pressure (VP = 8.5E-05 hPa at 20°C) and the low Henry´s law constant (HLC (uncharged): 3.97E-06 Pa*m3/mol; pH-corrected HLC (pH 5-9): 4.06E-10 to 2.01E-06 Pa*m3/mol) of the substance.


Based on the available data diethanolamine is considered to be acutely harmful to aquatic invertebrates.