Removal of linear alkylbenzene sulfonate from a small Yorkshire stream: Contribution to GREAT-ER project # 7

Authors : Kay Fox, Unilever Research; Martin Holt, ECETOC; Mic Daniel, Environment Agency UK; Harold Buckland, Yorkshire Water; Ian Guymer, Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, University of Sheffield
Publisher : The Science of the Total Environment, Volumes 251-252 , 5 May 2000, Pages 265-275


An in-stream removal experiment has been carried out in Red Beck, a small stream which receives effluent from Shibden Head Sewage Treatment Works. This trickling filter works serves a purely domestic population of 9408 but is scheduled to be closed, and the flows diverted to another works, as part of Yorkshire Water?s continuing capital investment programme. An anionic detergent, linear alkylbenzene sulfonate (LAS), boron, and standard water quality parameters have been measured at seven sites downstream of the effluent discharge point. Time of travel has been measured by detection of a fluorescent dye added to the effluent sampling chamber, and the increase in flow as the river proceeds through the catchment has been determined from current flow measurements, and from boron dilution data. Assuming a first order removal mechanism, the overall half-life for LAS removal is just over 2 h (2 h 14 min). Faster removal takes place in the upper portion of the stream, and removal over the last five sampling points is somewhat slower, with a half-life of 2 h 40 min. This removal may comprise both primary biodegradation and the deposition of suspended matter to which the surfactant has been adsorbed. There was no significant difference in the removal half-lives of the individual alkyl chain length homologues.