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Biodegradation in water: screening tests

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EDTA is not readily biodegradable according to OECD standards. An OECD Screening Test indicated 10% degradation with municipal wastewater and EDTA concentration between 7 and 50 mg/l after 19 days. 
Recent data suggest that under alkaline conditions (at pH 8) EDTA can be degraded, also different investigations show, that it is possible to obtain enrichment cultures of EDTA-utilising microorganisms. So far three strains of bacteria have been isolated breaking down EDTA completely.
Results obtained at pH of 8 could be relevant because the pH value of lake and river water ranges from 7.7 to 8.5. However, in surface waters EDTA is preferablycomplexed with heavy metal ions. Regarding the degradation tests cited below, no biological degradation is expected. Therefore, in the present exposure assessment EDTA is regarded as not biodegradable in surface waters, and a biodegradation rate constant of 0 d-1 is used.

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