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Siloxanes in the Nordic Environment

image of Siloxanes in the Nordic Environment

Siloxanes belong to a group of substances used in a number of industrial applications and in consumer products such as additives in fuel, car polish, cleaners, anti foamiers and car waxes. Besides this, they are widely used in e.g. personal care and biomedical products. As a result of their wide use, siloxanes are presumably spread into the environment both via point sources and via diffuse sources and may be found in the environment. Recent studies have suggested that siloxanes may have direct or indirect toxic effects on various biological processes. The aim of this screening study was to obtain a snapshot of the occurrence of siloxanes in the Nordic environment. The here presented screening study involved six countries: Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Sampled media types were air, biota, sediment, sludge, soil and water. Siloxanes were found in all the analysed samples types except soils. The results indicate that there is a general pollution of siloxanes in the Nordic environment, close to dense population and major sources. There was, however, a great variation in concentrations. The cyclic siloxanes occurred in all media in significantly higher concentrations than the linear siloxanes. At present, the observed concentrations are not alarmingly high, and many background sites seem to be non-contaminated. However, the use of siloxanes is extensive and it is possible that continued use will lead to increased environmental levels, eventually reaching effect concentrations.

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Applications and use of siloxanes

Siloxanes are widely used over the world. D4, D5, and MM are chemicals of high production volume within the European Union. In the Nordic countries there is a limited use of MD2M, MDM and MM, and more extensive use of D4 and D5 (Figure 1). The Norwegian and Finnish use of D6 is confidential, whereas Sweden reports 1 tonne in each of the years 2001 to 2003. Denmark reports occurrences of D6 in more than ten products, but no figures are given (SPIN, 2005). The consumption of MD3M is confidential (too few users) and restricted to Sweden. Only Denmark and Sweden have reported use of D3. Sweden and Denmark report occurrence in more than 15 products but no figures are given. In Norway the use of D3 is confidential (SPIN, 2005). Figure 2 shows a comparison of the D4 and D5 uses in the Nordic countries.

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