When assessing oil spills in marine environments, focus has often been on describing degradation and removal of hydrocarbons. However, more and more attention is now given to the formation of mineral oil transformation products, and their potential toxicity and persistency in the environment. The aim of this study was to investigate the formation of dissolved acidic degradation products from crude oil in sea water from the Persian Gulf in a lab-experiment. A super-complex mixture of acidic degradation products was formed in the water phase and compound groups of aliphatic acids, monocyclic aromatic acids-, and polycyclic aromatic acids were identified. More specifically, alkylated PAHs were biodegraded to a high number of aromatic, carboxylic acids by hydroxylation of the alkyl side chains. These degradation products are more bioavailable than their parent compounds, and may therefore constitute a new group of contaminants that should be considered in oil spill assessments.
- Aromatic acids
- Crude oil
- Oil spill assessment
- Water-soluble degradation products
- Programme Area 2: Water Resources