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Environmental fate & pathways

Biodegradation in soil

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Description of key information

No indication of degradation in soil can be reported. 

Key value for chemical safety assessment

Additional information

One publication is available to assess the possibilities of the liberation of toxic aromatic amines under different conditions of disposal (Martens, 1981). The degradation of different 14C-labelled polyurethane foams was investigated in the leachate of a refuse tip, in composted municipal waste and in an agricultural soil. With unlabelled foam cubes experiments were run under the environmental conditions of a refuse tip. In addition, the degradation of 14C-labelled polyureas was studied in different agricultural soils. In the laboratory tests the criteria of degradation were the liberation of aromatic amines and the production of 14CO2. The degradation in the refuse tip was estimated on the basis of weight loss.

From the results it can be assumed that the polyether based polyurethane foams are largely resistant to microbial as well as chemical attack under all practical conditions of disposal. Polyester based polyurethane foams are susceptible to chemical hydrolysis favoured by extreme environmental conditions such as high temperature and/or low or high pH values. Under these circumstances an accumulation of aromatic amines can occur if their further microbial degradation is impeded by the lack of suitable conditions for the growth of microorganisms. No indication of any degradation of the isocyanate based polyureas was found.