EDTA is considered inherently biodegradable which means that when emitted to the environment it is completely mineralised (i.e. fully converted into carbon dioxide, water and ammonium).

Rapid biodegradation of EDTA has been demonstrated under slightly alkaline condition as for instance in activated sludge plants. Moreover, the ferric‑EDTA complex rapidly falls apart in surface waters when exposed to sunlight.

In agricultural applications to soil and in soilless cultures, the performance of EDTA has not been equaled by readily biodegradable alternatives. In these applications EDTA should degrade just slowly enough to perform its function i.e. to bring the trace metal (Fe, Mn, Zn and Cu) to the plant root over a period of several days to weeks, but fast enough to avoid unwanted accumulation in the environment.

REACH registrations for all metal-EDTA’s have been performed and the data generated does not warrant warnings on their labels for eco-toxicity, and safe use has been demonstrated according to standardized risk assessment methodology. This means that exposure to these chemicals under normal use conditions have been demonstrated to be below levels that would cause harm to living organism. Moreover it should be noted that Fe-EDTA and Ca-EDTA are approved as nutritional ingredients in food products. Therefore, not only are these chemicals safe to use, they also provide important socio-economic value in supplying both plant and people with essential nutrients for improved quality of life.

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