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Glutaraldehyde was found to be readily biodegradable. The biodegradation of glutaraldehyde in domestic sludge, salt water, pond water, sediment and soil was investigated mainly under aerobic conditions except for sediments and pond water which were tested under anaerobic conditions too.

90 - 100% of the initial glutaraldehyde concentration (20 mg/L DOC) was eliminated from water after 28 days. Glutaraldehyde fulfilled the pass criteria of this test for ready biodegradability. In addition, the biodegradability of glutaraldehyde 50% in salt water from the North Sea showed that glutaraldehyde can be regarded as ultimate biodegradable under marine water conditions.

The biodegradability of glutaraldehyde 50% was tested in the Activated Sludge Simulation Test. The results showed that the mean biodegradation was 97% after 73 days.

The aim of further studies was to investigate the environmental fate of glutaraldehyde in pond water and sediment under aerobic as well as anaerobic conditions. Based on the results of these different simulation tests glutaraldehyde can be regarded as biodegradable in activated sludge as well as the pond water and sediments under different oxygen conditions. In addition, the results of two aerobic soil metabolism studies with glutaraldehyde are indicating that the test substance is rapidly degraded in soil by microbial biotransformation.

Conclusion: Glutaraldehyde is readily biodegradable and it has a potential to biodegrade in the marine environment. Glutaraldehyde dissipated in the aerobic water/sediment system with the half-life of 1.25 d (12 °C). The corresponding rate constant is 0.555 d-1. Furthermore, Glutaraldehyde degrades rapidely in activated sludge with half-life of 0.2 hours at 12°C (see section 5.4.1 Gonsior, 2001).