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Hydrolysis will be a significant factor in determining the environmental fate of sodium ethyl xanthate. In neutral or mildly alkaline solutions, sodium ethyl xanthate decomposes to the alcohol, carbon disulphide, sodium carbonate and sodium trithiocarbonate, the two salts arising from neutralisation of carbon disulphide with the sodium hydroxide liberated. In more strongly alkaline media, hydrogen sulphide is liberated. However, strongly alkaline conditions are unlikely to be encountered under the conditions of use in the mining industry. The half-life at pH 7 at 25°C is reportedly about 260 hours, increasing to over 500 hours in the pH range 8 to 11.3 Sodium ethyl xanthate is hydrolytically unstable when exposed to acidic conditions, reverting rapidly to ethanol, carbon disulphide and caustic soda, and therefore will not persist in the acidic environment of tailings dams. If discharged to waterways, the chemical would be likely to persist for at least some days, hydrolysing only slowly in this more neutral environment. However, it is not expected to bioaccumulate in view of its ionic character. Sodium ethyl xanthate is not expected to contaminate the environment where ore tailings are confined to well constructed tailings dams. Most will be retained on sulphide minerals and destroyed when they are dried after flotation. Minor residues that remain associated with tailings will be destroyed by hydrolysis in tailings dams.