Toxicological and ecotoxicological properties of gas-to-liquid (GTL) products. 1. Mammalian toxicology.

Abstract

Gas-to-liquid (GTL) products are synthetic hydrocarbons produced from natural gas using a Fischer-Tropsch process. This process yields a synthetic crude oil that consists of saturated hydrocarbons, primarily linear alkanes, with increasing amounts of branched (methyl-groups) alkanes as the chains get longer. In addition, small amounts of cycloalkanes (branched cyclopentanes and cyclohexanes) may be formed as the polymerization reaction prolongs. This synthetic crude can subsequently be refined to a range of products very similar to petroleum refining. However, in contrast to their petroleum-derived analogs, GTL products are essentially free of unsaturated or aromatic constituents and also no sulfur-, oxygen-, or nitrogen-containing constituents are present. From a regulatory perspective, GTL products are new substances which require extensive testing to assess their hazardous properties. As a consequence, a wide range of GTL products, covering the entire portfolio of GTL products, have been tested over the past few years in a wide variety of toxicological studies, including reproductive and prenatal development toxicity studies. This review provides an overview of the hazardous properties of the various GTL products. In general, the data collected on GTL products provide strong proof that they exert minimal health effects. In addition, these data provide supporting evidence for what is known on the mechanisms of mammalian toxicology of their petroleum-derived analogs. In the few cases where adverse effects were found for the GTL substances, these were usually less severe than the adverse effects observed with their petroleum-derived analogs.

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