University of Northern Iowa, Environmental Programs, Cedar Falls, IA 50614
The environmental fate and biological effects of the fuel oxygenate methyl-tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) is of concern because, among other factors, it is highly soluble in water. Thus ground and surface water contamination may occur through accidental exposures and spills. Little is known about the biodegradability and ecotoxicity of MTBE. We found that MTBE added to carbon-limited microbial consortia increased oxygen consumption but that concentrations approaching 740 mg/L inhibited the mineralization potential of another fuel constituent (hexadecane) by up to 50%. These results indicate that MTBE can be metabolized in the environment but that toxicity may adversely affect the overall biodegradation of hydrocarbon constituents of liquid fuels.
MTBE, hexadecane, radiorespirometry
This paper is from the Proceedings of the 10th Annual Conference on Hazardous Waste Research 1995, published in hard copy and on the Web by the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Hazardous Substance Research Center.
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