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Priority surfactants and their toxic metabolites in waste effluent discharges: an integrated study

More:  Institutes 
Dutch title: Oppervlakte-aktieve verbindingen en hun toxische metabolieten in afvallozingen: een geïntegreerde studie
Reference no: OND1273393
Period: June 1998 till April 2004
Status: Completed

Thesaurus terms: Ecotoxicology; Metabolites; Surfactants; Water quality

Institutes (4)  Top 
  • Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu, more, sponsor
  • Vrije Universiteit van Amsterdam; Onderzoekschool Milieuwetenschappen (SENSE), more, secretariat
  • Universiteit van Amsterdam; Faculteit der Natuurwetenschappen, Wiskunde en Informatica; Afdeling Scheikunde; Instituut voor Biodiversiteit en Ecosysteem Dynamica - IBED (UvA-IBED), more, partner
  • Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz; Institut für Geowissenschaften, more

Surfactants (surface active compounds) have one of the highest production rates of all organic chemicals, and are used in industry, trade and households. Commercial surfactants consist of several tens to hundreds of isomers and homologues of anionic, cationic, nonionic and amphoteric compounds. Therefore, their identification in the environment is very complicated. To obtain more knowledge about the environmental fate of surfactants and their degradation products, improved analytical methodology is needed.
In a collaboration project with other European institutes, these rnethods will be developed, permitting both the determination of the various surfactant groups and the identification of new metabolites.
This project will focus on nonionic surfactants (NIS), in particular alkylphenol ethoxylates (APE). An analytical method for the determination and quantification of APE and their metabolites wilI be developed, and their fate in different aquatic environments in Europe will be assessed.
The analytical method will include LC- APCI-MS and LC-ESI-MS, which will be compared to methods used by the other partners, in order to find the best technique for each type of surfactant. The fate of NIS is studied in two projects. The first one focuses on the fate of surfactants in sewage treatment plants in Spain, Gerrnany and The Netherlands. By sampling rivers upstrearn and downstream of the plants, as well as influents, effluents and sewage sludges, it will be assessed what actually happens to the alkylphenol ethoxylates and what the enviromnental consequences are.
The other project investigates the fate of surfactants once they reach Dutch estuaries and marine environments. In order to assess the environmenental risk of APE, the analytical results will be combined with toxicological data on both the surfactants and their metabolites. The metabolites play an important role in this risk assessment, because some of them act as endocrine disruptors.

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