Not only biocidal products: Washing and cleaning agents and personal care products can act as further sources of biocidal active substances in wastewater

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The emission sources of biocidal active substances in households have been under discussion since these substances have been detected frequently in municipal wastewater and receiving surface water bodies. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate the products responsible for the emission of these substances to wastewater.
We analysed the wastewater of two streets for a set of biocidal active substances. Time-proportional sampling was conducted for one week of each season during one year in each street. The 14 substances analysed with liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry were 1,2-benzisothiazol-3(2H)-one (BIT), C12-benzalkonium chloride, carbendazim, 5-chloro-2-methyl-2H-isothiazol-3-one (CMIT), dichlorooctylisothiazolinone (DCOIT), N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET), diuron, icaridine, 2-octyl-2H-isothiazol-3-one (OIT), piperonyl butoxide (PBO), triclosan, tebuconazole, terbutryn and tetramethrin. Using data available from household product inventories of the two streets, we searched the lists of ingredients for the products possibly being responsible for the emissions.
Except for four substances, all substances have been detected in at least 10% of the samples. Highest concentrations were measured for C12-benzalkonium chloride with an average concentration in the daily samples of 7.7 μg/L in one of the streets. Next to C12-benzalkonium chloride, BIT, DEET and icaridine were detected in all samples in average concentrations above 1 μg/L in at least one street. The results show that washing and cleaning agents were important sources for preservatives such as BIT and OIT, while triclosan was apparently mainly emitted through personal care products. The mosquito repelling substances DEET and icaridine were found throughout the year, with highest emissions in summer and autumn.
In conclusion, the results demonstrate that the sources of biocidal active substances in municipal wastewater are complex and that measures for the prevention of the emission of biocidal active substances into the aquatic environment have to be carried out under different legislations. This has to be taken into account discussing emission reduction at the source.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental international
Pages (from-to)247-256
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 06.2018

    Research areas

  • Chemistry - Biocide, Wasterwater, Source, Washing and cleaning agent, Personal care product, Micropollutant