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Silicones have many applications and are produced in large quantities. Despite their potential toxicity, information on their environmental mineralisation is scarce. Therefore, we investigated a group of five organosilicon compounds (o-MeOC6H4SiMe3 (1), p-MeOC6H4SiMe3 (2), (p-MeOC6H4)2SiMe2 (3), o-Me2NC6H4SiMe3 (4) and p-Me2NC6H4SiMe3 (5)), recently developed to be 'benign by design' based on their readily degradable core structure. Five different degradability tests were performed, one assessing hydrolytic and two analysing biological and photolytic stability, respectively. All substances, except (p-MeOC6H4)2SiMe2 (3), hydrolysed within 24 h to 50% indicating that this is one of the major pathways of their primary elimination. In agreement with previous research, none of the substances was readily biodegradable. In contrast, 100% of p-Me2NC6H4SiMe3 (5) was primarily eliminated by photolytic and hydrolytic processes. The elimination rates of the other substances ranged from 7% to 64%. Irradiation at shorter wavelengths increased both the extent and speed of photodegradation. Eleven transformation products of p-Me2NC6H4SiMe3 (5) were detected, all of which were completely eliminated within 64 min of irradiation with a Hg lamp (200-400 nm). The insertion of an electron-donating group on the benzene ring like in p-Me2NC6H4SiMe3 (5) clearly enhanced photolytic degradability but further research is necessary to achieve truly biodegradable silicones. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Elisa Grabitz, Oliver Olsson, Ann-Kathrin Amsel, Britta Rummel, Norbert W Mitzel, Klaus Kümmerer. Abiotic and biotic degradation of five aromatic organosilicon compounds in aqueous media-Structure degradability relationships. Journal of hazardous materials. 2020 Jun 15;392:122429

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PMID: 32208309

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