4-methylphenol produced in freshwater sediment microcosms is not a bisphenol A metabolite

Chemosphere. 2014 Dec:117:521-6. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.09.008. Epub 2014 Sep 29.


4-Methylphenol (4-MP), a putative bisphenol A (BPA) degradation intermediate, was detected at concentrations reaching 2.1 mg L(-1) in anoxic microcosms containing 10 mg L(-1) BPA and 5 g of freshwater sediment material collected from four geographically distinct locations and amended with nitrate, nitrite, ferric iron, or bicarbonate as electron acceptors. 4-MP accumulation was transient, and 4-MP degradation was observed under all redox conditions tested. 4-MP was not detected in microcosms not amended with BPA. Unexpectedly, incubations with (13)C-labeled BPA failed to produce (13)C-labeled 4-MP suggesting that 4-MP was not derived from BPA. The detection of 4-MP in live microcosms amended with lactate, but not containing BPA corroborated that BPA was not the source of 4-MP. These findings demonstrate that the transient formation of 4-MP as a possible BPA degradation intermediate must be interpreted cautiously, as microbial activity in streambed microcosms may generate 4-MP from sediment-associated organic material.

Keywords: 4-Methylphenol; Bisphenol A (BPA); Degradation; Microcosm; Sediment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anaerobiosis
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / analysis
  • Benzhydryl Compounds / metabolism*
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Cresols / analysis
  • Cresols / metabolism*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Fresh Water / analysis
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Geologic Sediments / analysis*
  • Phenols / analysis
  • Phenols / metabolism*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / metabolism*


  • Benzhydryl Compounds
  • Cresols
  • Phenols
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • 4-cresol
  • bisphenol A