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Surfactants: combating the fate, impact, and aftermath of their release in the environment

Arora, U and Khuntia, HK and Chanakya, HN and Kapley, A (2022) Surfactants: combating the fate, impact, and aftermath of their release in the environment. In: International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology .

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13762-022-04549-2


Surfactants are surface-active compounds widely applied in domestic and industrial cleansers, disinfection products, and personal care products. The residual surfactants and their breakdown products are dispersed in the environment predominantly via the disposal of sewage and land application of sewage sludge. In an environmental compartment, the concentration of the surfactants and their breakdown products range from a few micrograms to thousands of milligrams. They exhibit a relatively longer life cycle in the environment due to high surface affinity, and antimicrobial and recalcitrant properties, respectively. The findings reveal that prolonged exposure of surfactants with the innocuous microbiome alters the niche, inherits genetic assembly, and further imbibes antimicrobial resistances through the emergence of antimicrobial resistance genes, altogether impeding the downstream recycling of treated wastewater and sludge. Moreover, these compounds exhibit deleterious effects on the environmental niches such as foaming, scum formation, eutrophication, and physicochemical alterations. The personal care industry is going greener by the day, but the demand for chemical surfactants cannot be seen to breakneck anytime sooner. Therefore, a three-pronged approach is necessary to curtail the environmental influx of these compounds, firstly reducing the use of surfactants, secondly substituting the recalcitrant chemical compounds with greener compounds, and thirdly, completing the decomposition of surfactants in the wastewater treatment plants. This review elucidates the nexus of surfactant composition, biodegradation, and environmental persistence with a comprehension of the following topics, (i). Chemical composition and applications of synthetic and natural surfactants, (ii). The occurrence, toxicity, and fate of surfactants and their biodegradation products in the environment, (iii). The mechanism of biodegradation of surfactants by the aerobic and anaerobic microbes (iv). The proliferation of antibiotic resistance in the context of surfactants is highlighted. Graphical abstract: Figure not available: see fulltext..

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: International Journal of Environmental Science and Technology
Publisher: Institute for Ionics
Additional Information: The copyright for this article belongs to the Institute for Ionics.
Keywords: Eutrophication; Life cycle; Microorganisms; Sewage sludge; Sludge disposal; Surface active agents; Toxicity; Wastewater disposal; Wastewater reclamation; Wastewater treatment, Antimicrobial resistances; Breakdown products; Environmental compartment; Environmental pollutions; Land applications; Natural surfactants; Personal care products; Product ranges; Sewage application; Surface-active compounds, Biodegradation
Department/Centre: Division of Mechanical Sciences > Centre for Sustainable Technologies (formerly ASTRA)
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2022 05:23
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2022 05:23
URI: https://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/77690

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