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Environmental fate & pathways

Bioaccumulation: aquatic / sediment

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Description of key information

Accumulation in aquatic organisms is not to be expected.

Key value for chemical safety assessment

BCF (aquatic species):
0.396 dimensionless

Additional information

In tests on different fish species and a shrimp no bioaccumulation of formaldehyde was observed.

One recent study on marine fish is available in which tissue formaldehyde levels after exposure to formaldehyde were investigated (Jung 2001). Elevated formaldehyde levels in muscle tissue (by 0.8 µg/g wet weight) were found only directly after a one-hour treatment at 185 mg/L, but not after a 24-hour or longer depuration period. The results indicate that there is no bioaccumulation in fish.

Based on the physical-chemical properties a BCF can be calculated. According to TGD (EC 2003, part II, chapter 3, p. 126) a BCFfish for substances with a log Pow < 6 can be calculated using the following QSAR developed by Veith et al. (1979):
log BCFfish = 0.85 · log Pow – 0.7
Applying the experimentally derived log Pow for formaldehyde of 0.35 (Hansch et al., 1995) results in
log BCFfish (formaldehyde) = 0.85 · 0.35 – 0.7
log BCFfish (formaldehyde) = – 0.403
BCFfish (formaldehyde) = 0.396
As measured data are limited, default values can be used for deriving a BMF according to TGD (EC 2003, part II, chapter 3, p. 127).
Applying the experimentally derived log Pow for formaldehyde of 0.35 (Hansch et al. 1995) and the BCFfish estimated above results in
BMF (formaldehyde) = 1.
Due to the result, formaldehyde is not expected to accumulate in biota.
Additionally, different tests show no significant concentrations of formaldehyde in fish.

In tests on 4 fish species, no formaldehyde was detected in the muscle, liver or blood plasma (Sills 1979).

In a test on a marine shrimp, no extractable formaldehyde residues could be detected when analysed immediately after treatment (Hose 1980). However during longer post-mortem storage up to 72 hours, significant amounts of extractable formaldehyde were produced biologically due to tissue decomposition.

Therefore, a test on aquatic bioconcentration of formaldehyde is scientifically not justified.