The Science of the total environment

Metabolites from the biodegradation of di-ester plasticizers by Rhodococcus rhodochrous.

PMID 16316677


The plasticizers di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) and di-2-ethylhexyl adipate (DEHA) are ubiquitous in the environment and undergo partial biodegradation in the presence of soil micro-organisms. The validity of a proposed pathway for the degradation of these plasticizers by Rhodococcus rhodochrous has been confirmed by the identification of 2-ethylhexanal in gas phase emissions. Complete analyses of the aqueous and gas phases were able to account for more than 98% of the 2-ethylhexanol component of the DEHA added at the beginning of a growth study. Of this, 25% was either 2-ethylhexanol or 2-ethylhexanal that had been stripped into the gas phase and, at most, only 2% of the 2-ethylhexanol component could have been removed by mineralization. It is concluded that plasticizers are of significant environmental concern due to the resistance of the metabolites to biodegradation and their known health impacts. Two of the metabolites are of added concern due to their volatility and their potential impact on indoor air quality.