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EC number: 200-001-8
CAS number: 50-00-0
The substance is readily biodegradable (according to OECD criteria)
The biodegradability of formaldehyde was investigated in 3 tests
on ready biodegradability according to the OECD guidelines 301 A
(Fraunhofer IME, 2011) 301 C (MITI, 1989) and 301 D (Gericke & Gode,
In the DOC Die-Away Test (OECD 301 A), conducted in compliance
with the principles of Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) and therefore
selected as key-study, the degradation of Formaldehyde (30 - 55 %
W/W aqueous solution) was found to be 99 % after 28 days. The
degradation within the 10-day-window, which started at day 2, was 102 %.
No inhibitory effects of the test item were observed (more than 35 %
degradation occurred within 14 days) in the toxicity control.
In the MITI-I-Test (OECD 301 C) degradation after 14 days was
found to be 91% of BOD/ThOD and 97% of TOC. Although the test substance
concentration indicates that toxic effects can not be excluded (c.f.
Section 6.1.7), the degradation was nearly complete. In a
Closed-Bottle-Test (OECD 301 D), the substance degraded to 90% of ThOD
after 28 days. No data are reported referring to the 14-days window
Overall, due to the results of the available tests according to
OECD 301 A, C and D formaldehyde can be identified as readily
biodegradable under enviromental conditions. This is in agreement with
the OECD evaluation (OECD, 2004).
Mechanism of biodegradation: The mechanism of formaldehyde
degradation by Pseudomonas putida is initiated by a dismutation
reaction, yielding formic acid and methanol as products. Degradation of
the products began after exhaustion of formaldehyde in the medium.
The anaerobic degradation of formaldehyde was studied in a
non-guideline batch test (Eiroa et al., 2006). Sludge from the anoxic
chamber of the full-scale wastewater treatment plant of a
resin-producing factory was used as inoculum. An initial formaldehyde
concentration of 1360 mg/L was applied. The formaldehyde concentration
decreased rapidly in the test medium, after 4 days the test substance
was completely biodegraded. Simultaneously to formaldehyde removal,
methanol and formic acid were formed as intermediate products.
Degradation of both metabolites began after the exhaustion of
formaldehyde in the medium. From
the results of this test it can be concluded that formaldehyde is
rapidly removed in anaerobic digester sludge.
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