The behaviour of various persistent metabolites derived from nonylphenol polyethoxylate (NPnEO) surfactants was studied during infiltration of river water to groundwater at two field sites situated in the northern part of Switzerland (Glatt River and Sitter River). Nonylphenol (NP), nonylphenol monoethoxylate (NP1EO), nonylphenol diethoxylate (NP2EO), nonylphenoxy acetic acid (NP1EC) and nonylphenoxy(ethoxy) acetic acid (NP2EC) were observed in the two investigated rivers at relatively high concentrations with average values of the individual types of nonylphenolic compounds ranging from 1.8 to 25 μg/l. The average concentrations of NP, NP1EO and NP2EO in groundwater were significantly lower (range <0.1–1 μg/l) suggesting an efficient elimination of these compounds during infiltration. In contrast, the elimination of nonylphenoxy carboxylic acids was less efficient. Most of the observed elimination occurred in the first 2.5 m of the aquifer, while further decrease in concentration was rather slow. In one sampling period, residual concentrations of nonylphenolic compounds up to 7.2 μg/l were detected in a pumping station used for drinking water supply which is situated 130 m from the Glatt River bed. Concentrations of NP, NP1EO and NP2EO in both river water and groundwater showed a pronounced seasonal variability with higher values observed during winter. The data suggest that low temperatures, which prevail in winter, significantly reduce the elimination efficiency of NP and to a lesser extent of NP1EO, while the behaviour of NP2EO was not affected. Such a behaviour indicates biogical transformation as the responsible elimination process. A comparison of average elimination efficiences of nonylphenolic compounds with those of pentachlorphenol (PCP) and nitrilotriacetate (NTA) gives the following sequence: NTA ≧ NP2EO > NP1EO > NP > PCP > NP1EC = NP2EC.
Water Research – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 1996
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