Sunday, March 1, 2009

Acrolein and Phenol - Human Health Based Water Quality Criteria

The US EPA recently proposed an update to its ambient water quality criteria for acrolein and phenol. Water quality criteria are typically calculated to protect aquatic life from toxicological adverse impacts. However, for certain chemicals which can accumulate in fish, criteria also are based on protection of human health. In addition to being directly exposed to chemicals in the water, humans can also be exposed when fish are eaten that have accumulated chemical from the water. Both acrolein and phenol have human health-based water quality criteria.

Comment period for the draft criteria ended in October 2008.

The proposed criteria are significantly lower compared to current criteria used for the two chemicals:


Water + Organisms: 6 mg/L (currently 190 mg/L)

Organisms Only: 9 mg/L (currently 290 mg/L)


Water + Organisms: 10,400 mg/L (currently 20,700 mg/L)

Organisms Only: 857,000 mg/L (currently 1,700,000 mg/L)

Acrolein is used in various chemical manufacturing processes and is also used as a common herbicide. Phenol is also used to make chemical intermediates for a wide range of other applications, ranging from plastics to pharmaceuticals and agricultural chemicals.

Caltha LLP provides expert consulting services to public and private sector clients nationwide to address water quality standards, wastewater permitting and assessing potential impacts of chemicals in the aquatic environment.

Caltha LLP Aquatic Toxicology / WQ Standards Services Website