Acrolein in freshwater and marine water

​​​Toxicant default guideline values for protecting aquatic ecosystems

October 2000

Extracted from Section 8.3.7 ‘Detailed descriptions of chemicals’ of the ANZECC & ARMCANZ (2000) guidelines.


The default guideline values (previously known as ‘trigger values’) and associated information in this technical brief should be used in accordance with the detailed guidance provided in the Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality.

Description of chemical

Acrolein (CAS 107-02-08) is a relatively volatile and reactive aldehyde used commonly for aquatic weed control for submerged waterweed in channels, drains and irrigation canals (Tomlin 1994, NRA 1997a). Its molecular formula is C3H4O and molecular weight is 56.1. Acrolein is soluble in water at 208 g/kg at 20°C (Tomlin 1994).

Uses and environmental fate

As well as its use as an algicide and for aquatic weed control (in Australia), acrolein is also used industrially for manufacture of colloidal metals, plastics, perfumes, polyurethanes, acrylic acid, glycerine and as a warning agent in refrigerants (HSDB 1996). In water, acrolein will biodegrade rapidly, hydrate or evaporate, and the overall half-life is 1 to 6 days (HSDB 1996). It is unlikely to bioaccumulate.

Aquatic toxicology

Freshwater fish: four species: 48-144 h LC50, 14-125 µg/L.

Freshwater amphibians: one species, 96-h LC50, 7 µg/L.

Freshwater crustaceans: three species, 48-96 h LC50, 51-500 µg/L.

Freshwater algae: no data available.

Marine fish: two species, 48-96 h LC50, 240-430 µg/L.

Marine crustacean: two species, 48-h LC50, 100-2100 µg/L. Barnacles were less sensitive at 1600-2100 µg/L, and Penaeus aztecus most sensitive.

Marine algae: no data available.


A freshwater ECL (see Section of ANZECC & ARMCANZ 2000) of 0.01 µg/L was adopted as a low reliability trigger value for acrolein using an assessment factor (AF) of 1000. A low reliability marine trigger value of 0.1 µg/L was calculated for acrolein using an AF of 1000. These figures should only be used as indicative interim working levels.


ANZECC & ARMCANZ 2000. Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality, Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council and Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand, Canberra.

HSDB (Hazardous Substances Data Bank) 1996. Micromedex Inc. 31 July 1996.

NRA 1997a. Database extraction of selected pesticides: Registered uses in Australia, National Registration Authority, July 1997, Canberra.

Tomlin C 1994. The pesticide manual: A world compendium. 10th edn, British Crop Protection Council & Royal Society of Chemistry, Bath, UK.