Results from the Swedish National Screening Programme 2008. Sub-report 2. Biocides: Glutaraldehyde

As an assignment from the Swedish EPA, IVL has during 2008/2009 performed a 'Screening Study' of glutaraldehyde. In addition, formaldehyde and acetaldehyde were also measured. In Sweden the major usage of glutaraldehyde is as a slimicide in the paper and pulp industry. The compound is also used as a disinfectant in hospitals, as a biocide for water treatment in water recirculating systems and off-shore operations, in the petroleum industry, in the live stock and aquaculture industries, as a fixative in histology, as hardener in x-ray film processing, for tanning of leather, and also in cosmetics. The compund has high water solubility, is reactive and is of low persistence. It is not expected to accumulate in soil, sediment or biota. Thus in the environment, water is the compartment that may be of concern. In previous studies, glutaraldehyde has been found in air and effluent water sampled at hospitals, and in water from pulp and paper industry. A sampling program was developed based on usage pattern, chemical properties and fate, and results from previous studies. It included samples from the vicinity of potential point sources, samples representing diffuse emission pathways, and samples from background areas. Glutaraldehyde could only be found in samples associated with the identified point sources related to the usage of the compound, i.e. in effluent water from a paper mill and in air and effluent water from an hospital. It could however not be found in samples from potential point sources representing the end of product life cycles, i.e. air and water from recycling companies or leachate water from a landfill. Further, it could not be found in samples representing diffuse sources or background areas. Glutaraldehyde may thus affect the environment at the site of usage, but the results indicate a low potential for dispersal in the environment. Concentrations found were below toxicity values found in the literature. Thus, all together glutaraldehyde does not appear to pose a risk to the environment.

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Last updated: 2021-05-05

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

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IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute has a wide environmental profile. We combine applied research and development with close collaboration between industry and the public sphere. Our consultancy is evidence-based, and our research is characterized by interdisciplinary science and system thinking.


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