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Environmental fate & pathways

Biodegradation in water: screening tests

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Description of key information

The substance as well as its hydolysis products (methanol and formic acid) are readily biodegradable according to OECD criteria.

Key value for chemical safety assessment

Biodegradation in water:
readily biodegradable
Type of water:

Additional information

Parent compound (CAS 107-31-3)

For the assessment of biodegradabilty of methyl formate a test according to OECD guideline 310 was performed using domestic activated sludge (BASF 1997, 97/0206/27/1). The degradation of the substance was 77% (CO2 removal) within 7 days after the start of the test exposure. After 28 days of exposure a CO2 removal of 93% was measured.

Moreover, according to the available hydrolysis study for the substance, Methyl formates' susceptibility to hydrolysis increases with pH as well as with temperature. The hydrolysis half-life ranges from 410 h at pH 4 and 20 °C to less than 1 hour at pH 9 and 25 °C (OECD 111, BASF SE, 2010). Therefore, it can be concluded, that under environmentally relevant conditions (pH 7-9) the rapid hydrolysis will be the major fate process of the methyl formate due to the short half-life in aqueous solution. Therefore, the assessment of the environmental fate of the substance is also performed for the hydrolytic products: formic acid and methanol.


Hydrolysis product formic acid (CAS 64-18-6):

Formic acid (CAS 64-18-6) is readily biodegradable in freshwater based on the results of standard ready tests that show 99% DOC removal after 11 days (EU method C.4-B, BASF 1988, 52/0048/88); 98% DOC removal after 14 days (EU method C.4-B, BASF 1988, 0048/88) and 100% O2 consumption after 14 days (OECD 301C, MITI/JETOC Japan, 1993).

 Hydrolysis product methanol (CAS 67-56-1):

Methanol (CAS 67-56-1) is readily biodegradable in freshwater based on the results of standard ready tests that show 71.5 – 95% removal after 5 and 20 days, respectively (Price et al. 1974; Wagner 1976). In marine water degradation rates were found between 69 - 97 % (Price et al. 1974).

Overall it can be concluded that, based on the available experimental data, methyl formate and its hydrolytic products are readily biodegradable according to OECD criteria.