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J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2014;49(3):344-54. doi: 10.1080/10934529.2014.846706.

Alternative chelating agents: evaluation of the ready biodegradability and complexation properties.

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a REQUIMTE - Departament of Chemical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering , University of Porto , Porto , Portugal.


The ready biodegradability of four chelating agents, N,N'-(S,S)-bis[1-carboxy-2-(imidazol-4-yl)ethyl]ethylenediamine (BCIEE), N'-ethylenedi-L-cysteine (EC), N,N'-bis (4-imidazolymethyl)ethylenediamine (EMI) and 2,6-pyridine dicarboxylic acid (PDA), was tested according to the OECD guideline for testing of chemicals. PDA proved to be a readily biodegradable substance. However, none of the other three compounds were degraded during the 28 days of the test. Chemical simulations were performed for the four compounds in order to understand their ability to complex with some metal ions (Ca, Cd, Co, Cu, Fe, Mg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Zn) and discuss possible applications of these chelating agents. Two different conditions were simulated: (i) in the presence of the chelating agent and one metal ion, and (ii) in the simultaneous presence of the chelating agent and all metal ions with an excess of Ca. For those compounds that were revealed not to be readily biodegradable (BCIEE, EC and EMI), applications were evaluated where this property was not fundamental or even not required. Chemical simulations pointed out that possible applications for these chelating agents are: food fortification, food process, fertilizers, biocides, soil remediation and treatment of metal poisoning. Additionally, chemical simulations also predicted that PDA is an efficient chelating agent for Ca incrustations removal, detergents and for pulp metal ions removal process.

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