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Detections of alkyl-phenoxy-benzenesulfonates in municipal wastewater

Van Stempvoort, Dale R., Brown, Susan J., Smyth, Shirley Anne
Chemosphere 2020 v.251 pp. 126386
aeration, detection limit, ecotoxicology, municipal wastewater, sulfonates, surfactants, tandem mass spectrometry, wastewater treatment, Canada
This study presents the first reported detections and concentrations of alkyl phenoxy-benzenesulfonate surfactants (APBS) in municipal wastewater. A semi quantitative direct injection LC/MS/MS method was developed. Samples of raw influent and final effluent were obtained from fourteen municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) at various locations in Canada and were analyzed for APBS, including five homologues of monoalkyldiphenylether disulfonates (MADS) and one monoalkyldiphenylether sulfonate (MAMS) homologue. APBS were detected in all 42 of the wastewater raw influent samples and in 37 of the 42 wastewater final effluent samples; the other 5 final effluent samples had trace levels below the minimum detection limit. In the samples of raw influent from the fourteen municipal treatment plants, the dissolved concentrations of APBS (total) ranged from 0.9 to 13.6 μg/L. In samples of final effluent from the same plants the total APBS ranged from below detection to 4 μg/L. The APBS were more resistant to loss during wastewater treatment compared to previous studies of linear alkylbenzene sulfonates in wastewaters. The most effective wastewater treatments for removal of APBS were those that involved either secondary treatment with aeration or advanced treatment including biological nutrient removal. Available information on ecotoxicity is lacking for evaluating the impacts of APBS surfactants when released to the environment.