The biodegradation of surfactants in the environment

The biodegradation of surfactants in the environment The possible contamination of the environment by surfactants arising from the widespread use of detergent formulations has been reviewed. Two of the major surfactants in current use are the linear alkylbenzene sulphonates (LAS) and the alkyl phenol ethoxylates (APE). These pass into the sewage treatment plants where they are partially aerobically degraded and partially adsorbed to sewage sludge that is applied to land. The biodegradation of these and a range of other surfactants both in wastewater treatment plants and after discharge into natural waters and application to land resulting in sewage sludge amended soils has been considered. Although the application of sewage sludge to soil can result in surfactant levels generally in a range 0 to 3 mg kg −1 , in the aerobic soil environment a surfactant can undergo further degradation so that the risk to the biota in soil is very small, with margins of safety that are often at least 100. In the case of APE, while the surfactants themselves show little toxicity their breakdown products, principally nonyl and octyl phenols adsorb readily to suspended solids and are known to exhibit oestrogen-like properties, possibly linked to a decreasing male sperm count and carcinogenic effects. While there is little serious risk to the environment from commonly used anionic surfactants, cationic surfactants are known to be much more toxic and at present there is a lack of data on the degradation of cationics and their fate in the environment. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Biochimica et Biophysica Acta Biomembranes Or Bba Biomembranes Elsevier

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Publisher
Elsevier
Copyright
Copyright © 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.
ISSN
0005-2736
eISSN
1879-2642
DOI
10.1016/S0304-4157(00)00013-7
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The possible contamination of the environment by surfactants arising from the widespread use of detergent formulations has been reviewed. Two of the major surfactants in current use are the linear alkylbenzene sulphonates (LAS) and the alkyl phenol ethoxylates (APE). These pass into the sewage treatment plants where they are partially aerobically degraded and partially adsorbed to sewage sludge that is applied to land. The biodegradation of these and a range of other surfactants both in wastewater treatment plants and after discharge into natural waters and application to land resulting in sewage sludge amended soils has been considered. Although the application of sewage sludge to soil can result in surfactant levels generally in a range 0 to 3 mg kg −1 , in the aerobic soil environment a surfactant can undergo further degradation so that the risk to the biota in soil is very small, with margins of safety that are often at least 100. In the case of APE, while the surfactants themselves show little toxicity their breakdown products, principally nonyl and octyl phenols adsorb readily to suspended solids and are known to exhibit oestrogen-like properties, possibly linked to a decreasing male sperm count and carcinogenic effects. While there is little serious risk to the environment from commonly used anionic surfactants, cationic surfactants are known to be much more toxic and at present there is a lack of data on the degradation of cationics and their fate in the environment.

Journal

Biochimica et Biophysica Acta Biomembranes Or Bba BiomembranesElsevier

Published: Nov 23, 2000

References

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    Sonnenschein, C; Soto, A.M
  • Sublethal toxic effects of cyanobacteria and nonylphenol on environmental sex determination and development in Daphnia
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  • Biodegradability of branched alkylbenzene sulphonates
    Hashim, M.A; Kulandai, J; Hassan, R.S
  • Linear alkylbenzene sulphonates: Biodegradability and isomeric composition
    Perales, J.A; Manzano, M.A; Sales, D; Quiroga, J.M
  • Modelling the kinetics of biodegradation of anionic surfactants by biofilm bacteria from polluted riverine sites: A comparison of five classes of surfactant at three sites
    Lee, C; Russell, N.J; White, G.F
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    Gonzalez Mazo, E; Gomez Parra, A
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    Schröder, F.R; Schmiitt, M; Reichensperger, U

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