Where Chemicals Go
Whether a consumer product ingredient is found in the sewer, a wastewater treatment plant, river water or soil, the same treatment, or fate, processes act on these compounds to reduce their concentration in the environment. These four major treatment processes are biodegradation, volatilization, sorption and dilution.
All of these fate processes act together to reduce the concentration of consumer product ingredients in the environment. P&G scientists work to understand these processes to improve the ability to:
- Better understand the environment
- Design environmentally friendly compounds
- Better predict the concentration of P&G's ingredients in the environment
Efforts to understand what happens to product materials in the environment starts with prediction of biodegradation, volatilization and sorption using a Quantitative Structure Property Relationship (QSPR). These predicted values are used in computer fate models to predict the concentration of our ingredients in surface waters and soils around the world. For those compounds for which QSPRs do not provide good estimates of fate processes, we conduct a series of laboratory tests. The results of these tests are then used with the fate models to predict environmental concentrations.
To make sure that P&G's ingredients do not affect crops or organisms living in soil, scientists use fate models to predict concentrations in sludge. The key is to understand if concentrations are below levels causing adverse effects to these species. The process used to compare fate and effects is called environmental risk assessment.