ASTM-D6139 Standard Test Method for Determining the Aerobic Aquatic Biodegradation of Lubricants or Their Components Using the Gledhill Shake Flask

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Standard Test Method for Determining the Aerobic Aquatic Biodegradation of Lubricants or Their Components Using the Gledhill Shake Flask



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1.1 This test method covers the determination of the degree of aerobic aquatic biodegradation of fully formulated lubricants or their components on exposure to an inoculum under controlled laboratory conditions. This test method is an ultimate biodegradation test that measures carbon dioxide (CO2) evolution.

1.2 This test method is intended to specifically address the difficulties associated with testing water insoluble materials and complex mixtures such as are found in many lubricants.

1.3 This test method is designed to be applicable to all non-volatile lubricants or lubricant components that are not toxic and not inhibitory at the test concentration to the organisms present in the inoculum.

1.4 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as standard. No other units of measurement are included in this standard.

1.5 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety, health, and environmental practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use. Specific hazards are discussed in Section 10.

1.6 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.

Significance and Use

5.1 Results from this CO2 evolution test method suggest, within the confines of a controlled laboratory setting, the degree of ultimate aerobic aquatic biodegradability of a lubricant or components of a lubricant. Test materials which achieve a high degree of biodegradation in this test method may be assumed to easily biodegrade in many aerobic aquatic environments. (See also Test Method D5864.)

5.2 Because of the stringency of this test method, a low yield of CO2 does not necessarily mean that the test material is not biodegradable under environmental conditions, but indicates that further testing needs to be carried out in order to establish biodegradability.

5.3 Information on the toxicity of the test material to the inoculum may be useful in the interpretation of low biodegradation results.

5.4 Activated sewage-sludge from a sewage treatment plant that principally treats domestic waste may be used as an aerobic inoculum. An inoculum derived from soil or natural surface waters, or any combination of the three sources, may also be used in this test method.

Note 1: Allowance for various and multiple inoculum sources provides access to a greater diversity of biochemical competency and potentially represents more accurately the capacity for biodegradation.

5.5 A reference or control material known to biodegrade under the conditions of this test method is necessary in order to verify the activity of the inoculum. The test method must be regarded as invalid and should be repeated using a fresh inoculum if the reference does not demonstrate biodegradation to the extent of >60 % of the theoretical CO2 within 28 days.

5.6 The water solubility or dispersibility of the lubricant or components may influence the results obtained and hence the procedure may be limited to comparing lubricants or components with similar solubilities.

5.7 The ratio of carbon incorporated into cellular material to carbon metabolized to CO2 will vary depending on the organic substrate, on the particular microorganisms carrying out the conversion, and on the environmental conditions under which the conversion takes place. In principle, this variability complicates the interpretation of the results from this test method.

5.8 The behavior of complex mixtures may not always be consistent with the individual properties of the components. The biodegradability of the components may be suggestive of whether a mixture containing these components (that is, a fully formulated lubricant) is biodegradable but such information should be used judiciously.


aerobic biodegradation; aquatic biodegradation; degree of biodegradation; lubricant biodegradability; municipal sewage; sewage; sludge; theoretical CO2 evolution;; ICS Number Code 75.100 (Lubricants, industrial oils and related products)

To find similar documents by ASTM Volume:

05.03 (Petroleum Products and Lubricants (III): D6138 - D6971)

To find similar documents by classification:

75.100 (Lubricants, industrial oils and related products Including mineral oils, fluids for metal working and for temporary protection against corrosion Lubrication systems, see 21.260 Insulating oils, see 29.035.40)

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Publication Date

June 1, 2018

Document Type

Test Method

Page Count

8 pages

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