Diphenylnitrosamine 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

Nitrosamines have potential uses as solvents in the fibre and plastic industries, antioxidants in fuels, additives to fertilisers, softeners for copolymers, insect repellents, insecticides, fungicides and bactericides (CCREM 1987). Nitrosamines may be formed in the environment by interaction of nitrosating agents and secondary amines, a reaction that is pH-dependent, at a maximum of pH 3 to 4.

Dimethylnitrosamine (CAS 86-30-6) has been formed from dimethylamine and nitrate of pH as high as 7.7 in soil, sewage and lake water (CCREM 1987). Diphenylnitrosamine is also known as N-nitrosodiphenylamine.

Aquatic toxicology

Freshwater fish: one species, 96-hour LC50, Lepomis macrochirus, 5800 µg/L.

Freshwater crustacean: one species, 48-hour LC50, Daphnia magna, 7800 µg/L.

The only marine data were on Fundulus heteroclitus (3,300,000 µg/L; 3.3 g/L) (USEPA 1980d).

Feeding studies with Oncorhynchus mykiss (rainbow trout) and dimethylnitrosamine demonstrate a dose-related carcinogenic response (USEPA 1980d).


A freshwater low reliability trigger value of 6 µg/L was calculated for diphenyl nitrosamine using an assessment factor (AF) of 1000. In the absence of marine data, this was adopted as a marine low reliability trigger value. 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.

CCREM 1987. Canadian water quality guidelines. Canadian Council of Resource and Environment Ministers, Ontario.

USEPA 1980d. Ambient water quality criteria for nitrosamines. Criteria and Standards Division, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington DC.