- 178.2 g/mol
- Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
Compound properties list
|Melting/boiling point|| 99 °C||Solid|
|Relative density||1.18 g/cm3||Sinks in water|
|Vapour pressure||3 x 10 -4 mm Hg||Very low volatility|
|Vapour density||6.14||Denser than air|
|Solubility in water||1 mg/L||Very low solubility|
|Henry's law constant||4 x 10-5 atm·m3/mol||Moderate volatilization when dissolved|
|log Koc (Depending on soil or sediment characteristics)||3.8 - 6.0*||Strong adsorption to organic matter|
At 20 0C, phenanthrene is a solid with very low volatility. Characterized by its low to very low solubility, it will moderately volatilize once dissolved and adsorbs strongly to organic matter. When present in soil, this compound will undergo light volatilization and solubilize very slowly. Once dissolved, it will either enter into the groundwater table or drain towards a waterway, where it will be diluted before slowly volatilizing. Fragments of phenanthrene can also be carried into a waterway where they will be deposited at the bottom and very slowly dissolve. Once the source has been removed, the adsorbed phenanthrene will take a very long time to disappear, being released in its gaseous or dissolved forms. The resulting plumes (gaseous or dissolved) will be relatively small in size.
Phenanthrene should be handled with care, as it is toxic.
Phenanthrene is a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH). PAHs are a group of organic
compounds that contain two or more benzene rings in their structure. There are more than 100
different PAHs that generally occur as complex mixtures (example, combustion by-products such as soot).
Incomplete combustion of fuels in engines, during coal coking, or when wood is burning (forest
fires, wood stoves) produces PAHs. PAHs are also constituents of petroleum and coal, and they are
more present in some of their derivatives like tars and asphalt. The wood preservative industry
(example, creosote), aluminum smelters using Soderberg electrodes, and hazardous waste disposal sites
are further contributors of anthropogenic PAHs to the environment.
Phenanthrene is derived from coal tar. It has limited use in the manufacture of dyestuffs,
explosives, drugs and pesticides, and in the preparation of phenanthrene derivatives. Most
individual PAHs have very limited or no known uses, except as reagents in biochemical or cancer
research. Phenanthrene is more likely to be found with other PAHs as mixtures in commercial products
like coal tar, coal tar pitch, creosote, bitumen and asphalt. Coal tar is used as a fuel in the
steel industry, distilled to give coal tar pitch and creosote, and has been used in the clinical
treatment of skin disorders such as eczema and dermatitis. Coal tar pitch is used primarily as a
binder for aluminum smelting electrodes, but is also used in roofing, surface coatings and a variety
of other applications. Creosote is used to preserve wood for railroad ties, marine pilings and
telephone poles. Some creosote products are also used as a fuel by steel production. Bitumen and
asphalt are used for paving roads, for sound- and water-proofing, and coating pipes.
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1995. Toxicological
Profile for Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, Public Health Service, Georgia, USA.
(Viewed December 2013)
Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. 1999. Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for
the Protection of Aquatic Life: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). In: Canadian
Environmental Quality Guidelines. Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment, Manitoba,
Canada. (Viewed December 2013).
Montgomery, John H. 2007. Groundwater Chemicals, Desk Reference, Fourth Edition, CRC
Press, Taylor and Francis Group, Florida, USA.
National Toxicology Program. 2005. Report on Carcinogens, Twelfth Edition: Substance Profile of
Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health
Services, USA.(PDF, 256KB) (Viewed December 2013)