The ability of microorganisms to degrade trace levels of the hydrochlorofluorocarbons HCFC-21 and HCFC-123 was investigated. Methanotroph- linked oxidation of HCFC-21 was observed in aerobic soils, and anaerobic degradation of HCFC-21 occurred in freshwater and salt marsh sediments. Microbial degradation of HCFC-123 was observed in anoxic freshwater and salt marsh sediments, and the recovery of 1,1,1-trifluoro-2-chloroethane indicated the involvement of reductive dechlorination. No degradation of HCFC-123 was observed in aerobic soils. In same experiments, HCFCs were degraded at low (parts per billion) concentrations, raising the possibility that bacteria in nature remove HCFCs from the atmosphere.
Additional publication details
Microbial degradation of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (CHCl2F and CHCl2CF3) in soils and sediments