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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Assessment of bioconcentration and secondary poisoning of surfactants.

The relevance of the bioconcentration behaviour of surfactants for the secondary poisoning assessment and for the risk characterisation in the bird and mammalian food chain has been investigated. The approach used is described in the recently revised EU Technical Guidance Document for the Risk Assessment of Substances. The results demonstrate that, based on experimentally derived bioconcentration factors, environmental concentrations and effects in animals, there is a clear level of safety for both linear alkylbenzene sulphonate (LAS) and alcohol ethoxylates (AE), the most important surfactants by volume. To assess other surfactants used in detergents, a bioconcentration factor that would need to be attained for secondary poisoning to be of concern has been estimated from predicted environmental concentrations and known long-term effects data in animals. Based on the known structural similarity of these surfactants to LAS and AE and the ubiquitous nature of the enzymatic systems that are present in biotransformation processes in organisms, it is concluded that bioconcentration of these surfactants to these levels is highly unlikely. Therefore the potential for secondary poisoning effects of these surfactants is extremely low.[1]


  1. Assessment of bioconcentration and secondary poisoning of surfactants. Comber, M.H., de Wolf, W., Cavalli, L., van Egmond, R., Steber, J., Tattersfield, L., Priston, R.A. Chemosphere (2003) [Pubmed]
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