Carbon capture and sequestration: an exploratory inhalation toxicity assessment of amine-trapping solvents and their degradation products

Environ Sci Technol. 2014 Sep 16;48(18):10821-8. doi: 10.1021/es5009505. Epub 2014 Aug 28.


Carbon dioxide (CO2) absorption with aqueous amine solvents is a method of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) from flue gases. One concern is the possible release of amine solvents and degradation products into the atmosphere, warranting evaluation of potential pulmonary effects from inhalation. The CCS amines monoethanolamine (MEA), methyldiethanolamine (MDEA), and piperazine (PIP) underwent oxidative and CO2-mediated degradation for 75 days. C57bl/6N mice were exposed for 7 days by inhalation of 25 ppm neat amine or equivalant concentration in the degraded mixture. The aqueous solutions were nebulized to create the inhalation atmospheres. Pulmonary response was measured by changes in inflammatory cells in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and cytokine expression in lung tissue. Ames mutagenicity and CHO-K1 micronucleus assays were applied to assess genotoxicity. Chemical analysis of the test atmosphere and liquid revealed complex mixtures, including acids, aldehydes, and other compounds. Exposure to oxidatively degraded MEA increased (p < 0.05) total cells, neutrophils, and lymphocytes compared to control mice and caused inflammatory cytokine expression (statistical increase at p < 0.05). MEA and CO2-degraded MEA were the only atmospheres to show statistical (p < 0.05) increase in oxidative stress. CO2 degradation resulted in a different composition, less degradation, and lower observed toxicity (less magnitude and number of effects) with no genotoxicity. Overall, oxidative degradation of the amines studied resulted in enhanced toxicity (increased magnitude and number of effects) compared to the neat chemicals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Amines / chemistry
  • Amines / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Carbon / analysis*
  • Carbon Sequestration*
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Ethanolamine / chemistry
  • Ethanolamine / toxicity
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mutagens / toxicity
  • Solvents / toxicity*
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances / metabolism
  • Toxicity Tests*


  • Amines
  • Mutagens
  • Solvents
  • Thiobarbituric Acid Reactive Substances
  • Ethanolamine
  • Carbon