Linear alkylbenzene sulphonates (LAS) are a group of anionic surfactants, characterised by having both a hydrophobic and a hydrophilic group. LAS is one of the major ingredients of synthetic detergents and surfactants and is used world-wide for both domestic and industrial applications. LAS is relatively rapidly aerobically degraded, but only very slowly or not at all degraded under anaerobic conditions. Therefore, LAS can be found in very high concentrations in most sewage sludge and enter the soil compartment as a result of sludge application. LAS can be found in elevated concentrations in soil immediately after sludge amendment, but a half-life of approximately 1–3 weeks will generally prevent accumulation in soil and biota. The concentration in soils that have not received sewage sludge recently, is generally less than 1 mg kg −1 and not more than 5 mg LAS kg −1 . This is below the lowest concentration of LAS where effects have been observed in the laboratory. The laboratory data is in accordance with field studies using aqueous solutions of the sodium salt of LAS. However, observations of the ecological impact of sewage sludge applications or application of LAS spiked into sludge indicates a lower toxicity of LAS when applied in sludge. On the basis of the information reviewed in this paper, it is concluded that LAS can be found in high concentrations in sewage sludge, but that the relatively rapid aerobic degradation and the reduced bioavailability when applied via sludge, most likely will prevent LAS from posing a threat to terrestrial ecosystems on a long term basis.
Science of the Total Environment – Elsevier
Published: Feb 9, 1999
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