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Chemosphere. 2005 Jul;60(5):585-600. Epub 2005 Apr 22.

A review of the occurrence, analyses, toxicity, and biodegradation of naphthenic acids.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2E9, Canada.


Naphthenic acids occur naturally in crude oils and in oil sands bitumens. They are toxic components in refinery wastewaters and in oil sands extraction waters. In addition, there are many industrial uses for naphthenic acids, so there is a potential for their release to the environment from a variety of activities. Studies have shown that naphthenic acids are susceptible to biodegradation, which decreases their concentration and reduces toxicity. This is a complex group of carboxylic acids with the general formula CnH(2n+Z)O2, where n indicates the carbon number and Z specifies the hydrogen deficiency resulting from ring formation. Measuring the concentrations of naphthenic acids in environmental samples and determining the chemical composition of a naphthenic acids mixture are huge analytical challenges. However, new analytical methods are being applied to these problems and progress is being made to better understand this mixture of chemically similar compounds. This paper reviews a variety of analytical methods and their application to assessing biodegradation of naphthenic acids.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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