Fate of linear alkylbenzene sulfonate in the environment



An extensive monitoring study was conducted to determine the fate of linear alkylbenzene sulfonate (LAS) during wastewater treatment and in the environment. Results showed that LAS was highly removed during activated sludge (99.3 ± 0.6%), lagoon (98.5 ± 1.8%), oxidation ditch (98.0 ± 4.2%), and rotating biological contact (96.2 ± 6.1%) treatment, with poorer removals observed at trickling filter (77.4 ± 15.5%) facilities. Concentrations of LAS in anaerobically digested sludge (10,462 ± 5170 μg/g) were one to two orders of magnitude greater than those observed for aerobically digested sludge (152 ± 119 μg/g), illustrating that LAS is rapidly degraded during aerobic sludge treatment. Receiving water concentrations of LAS in rivers of low effluent dilution were generally < 50 μg/L. Elevated river sediment concentrations of LAS were observed only below the outfall of trickling filter treatment plants (59.7-182.1 μg/g). Alkyl chain lengths of LAS averaged 12.0 carbon units in most environmental compartments, with the exception of sludge solids and river sediments, in which an enrichment of longer chain lengths was observed. Measured concentrations of LAS in river waters under critical low flow conditions were in agreement with PG-GRiDS model predictions [5], thus supporting the validity of the modeling approach.