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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2001 May;49(1):26-39.

Ecotoxicology of glutaraldehyde: review of environmental fate and effects studies.

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Health, Safety and Environment, Union Carbide Corporation, 39 Old Ridgebury Road, Danbury, Connecticut 06817, USA.


Glutaraldehyde is a biocide used in many industrial applications with potential releases to the environment. This review discusses the environmental fate and effects data on this important biocide. Information drawn from this review indicates that glutaraldehyde is acutely toxic to aquatic organisms. Glutaraldehyde is equally toxic to warm water and cold water fish, but is slightly more toxic to freshwater fish than salt water fish. The acute toxicity of glutaraldehyde for avian species is comparable to that for mammalian species. The toxicity of glutaraldehyde is not appreciably increased with repeated long-term exposures. Results from environmental partitioning studies indicate that glutaraldehyde tends to remain in the aquatic compartment and has little tendency to bioaccumulate. Aqueous solutions of glutaraldehyde are stable at room temperature under acidic to neutral conditions, and to sunlight, but unstable at elevated temperatures, and under alkaline conditions. Glutaraldehyde is readily biodegradable in the freshwater environment and has the potential to biodegrade in the marine environment. Aquatic metabolism studies suggest that glutaraldehyde, under aerobic conditions, is metabolized to CO(2) via glutaric acid as an intermediate. Under anaerobic conditions, glutaraldehyde is metabolized to 1,5-pentanediol. Pretreatment with sodium bisulfite is the best method for inactivating glutaraldehyde prior to disposal to treatment systems.

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