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Environmental fate & pathways

Biodegradation in water: screening tests

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Description of key information

Readily biodegradable (according to OECD criteria).

Key value for chemical safety assessment

Additional information

Diethylene glycol was shown to meet the ready biodegradability criteria in a carbon dioxide evolution test according to OECD 301B (BASF, 1995). It should also be considered that diethylene glycol is generally used as a reference substance in biodegradability screening tests.

In addition to this information, the biodegradability of diethylene glycol is assessed in the read-across approach of 'ethylene glycol and higher glycols' (mono-, di-, tri-, tetra- and pentaethylene glycol). Within this read-across, all evidence indicates that the ethylene glycols are readily biodegradable. In case of mono-ethylene glycol (EG) a very rapid biodegradation was detected in the DOC Die Away Test according to OECD 301A (BASF, 1996). The time window of the degradation phase is approx. 3 days. With the same test method it could be shown that tetra-EG is degraded within a time window of approx. 9 days (BASF, 1995). For tri-EG, data from a MITI test according to OECD 301C showed results that also indicate the readily biodegradability (MITI, 1992). In this study biodegradation varied between 25% and 92% degradation after 28 days.

In conclusion, the evaluation of the biodegradability of the five short chain ethylene glycols can be derived from numerous different studies. Summarizing all available data it can be concluded that the complete members of the group are readily biodegradable.