Many contaminants are now entering the composition of industrial and domestic products (personal care products, cosmetics, detergents, etc.). Following a massive and varied use of these products, significant amounts of pollutants can be found at different levels of the water cycle, particularly in urban areas. One of the families of the most famous and widespread contaminants in urban areas is the surfactants. Surfactants are compounds necessary for hygiene and cosmetology. They are extensively used in household detergents, hair lotions, shampoos, conditioners, make-up, shaving creams.

Healthcare facility discharges, by their nature, are often considered as non-domestic effluent, which can provide significant pollution comparatively to other domestic sources. In a recent paper authored by Alexandre Bergé et al., published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research (doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-0470-8), UCT’s mixed-mode anion exchange solid phase extraction (SPE) cartridges, CUNAX2 (200 mg/ 3 mL), were employed for the extraction/preconcentration of surfactants in waste water samples.

In this study, a total of 12 monthly sampling campaigns were collected from a healthcare facility as well as the output of a sewerage system of Site Pilote de Bellecombe (SIPIBEL) observatory in France. This study was aimed at the analysis of specifically on 12 surfactants and biocides: four anionics, four cationic, two nonionic, one zwitterionic, and one dispersive agent, among the most commonly used commercial surfactants. Particular attention was also provided to routine wastewater quality parameters. Both effluents were heavily contaminated by most anionic surfactants.

Surfactants were analyzed by liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometer.. Anionic surfactants were detected by negative ionization mode whereas cationic, non-ionic, and zwitterionic surfactants were detected by positive ionization mode

In this study, it was found that the median concentrations up to 1 to 2 mg/L for linear alkylbenzene sulfonates and between 10 and 100 μg/L for other sodium sulfate congeners (lauryl and laureth). Overall, for the majority of surfactants, the healthcare facility contribution to the total flux reaching the wastewater treatment plant ranges between 5 and 9%.

This study shows why when environmental analysts require the finest of anionic exchange sorbents for public safety studies, they turn to UCT as their first choice for SPE cartridges. For more information regarding UCT mixed-mode anionic exchange sorbents please visit https://sampleprep.unitedchem.com/products/spe/environmental/enviro-clean-spe-tubes/enviro-clean-anion