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Environmental fate & pathways

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Anthracene undergoes indirect photo-oxidation induced by OH- and NO3-radicals and O3 in the atmosphere. Half-life of ca. 3.4 hours (at 52 °C) has been derived in the risk assessment of anthracene using the default 5 x 105 OH- molecules cm-3 and the experimentally derived rate constant of 1.12 x 10-10 cm3/(molecule*sec) at 52 °C (European Commission/Greece 2008).

Using EpiSuite a half-life of 9.63 h can be calculated at 25 °C (rate constant of 40 x 10-12 cm3/(molecule*sec). The transformation rate in particle phase is expected to be lower. Particle phase transformation is, however, not assumed to be of relevance for the overall atmospheric lifetime, because only up to 3 % of atmospheric anthracene has been observed to appear in particle phase (European Commission/Greece 2008).

Anthracene is stable against hydrolysis, but photochemical transformation in water and sediments has been observed in laboratory and “in situ”. Half-lives for primary photodegradation in water have been reported in the range of 20 minutes to 125 hours depending on the experimental conditions used. The highest value corresponds to photolysis in winter conditions. Anthraquinone has been identified as the main abiotic degradation product of anthracene (European Commission/Greece 2008).

Photodegradation of anthracene can be expected to be a relevant removal pathway in the environment only in very shallow clear waters and in the first few centimetres layer of the water column.

(taken with modifications from DE - Annex XV Report - PBT: svhc_axvrep_germany_pbt_anthracene_20083006(AnXV).pdf).

In an analytical investigation of historical soil samples in the UK, long-term changes in the atmospheric fallout of PAHs were followed over decades by using archived soils: anthracene was measured along with 11 - 13 other PAHs. The anthracene contaminations remained constant at a very low level over the decades, while higher molecular PAHs showed a clear increasing trend with peaking between 1950 – 1980. (Jones et al. 1989, see entries IUC5, 5.5.1)