4-Nonylphenol in sewage sludge: accumulation of toxic metabolites from nonionic surfactants

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Science  10 Aug 1984:
Vol. 225, Issue 4662, pp. 623-625
DOI: 10.1126/science.6740328


Anaerobically treated sewage sludge was found to contain extraordinarily high concentrations of 4-nonylphenol, a metabolite derived from nonionic surfactants of the nonylphenol polyethoxylate type. Concentrations in activated sewage sludge, in mixed primary and secondary sludge, and in aerobically stabilized sludge were substantially lower, suggesting that the formation of 4-nonylphenol is favored under mesophilic anaerobic conditions. Because 4-nonylphenol may be highly toxic to aquatic life, further research is needed on the fate of 4-nonylphenol after sludge is disposed of in the environment.

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