Adsorption of hydrophobic organic compounds onto a hydrophobic carbonaceous geosorbent in the presence of surfactants

Peng Wang, Arturo A. Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The adsorption of hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs; atrazine and diuron) onto lampblack was studied in the presence of nonionic, cationic, and anionic surfactants (Triton® X-100), benzalkonium chloride [BC], and linear alkylbenzene sulfonate [LAS]) to determine the effect of the surfactant on HOC adsorption onto a hydrophobic carbonaceous geosorbent. Linear alkylbenzene sulfonate showed an adsorption capacity higher than that of BC but similar to that of Triton X-100, implying the charge property of a surfactant is not a useful indicator for predicting the surfactant's adsorption onto a hydrophobic medium. The results also indicated that the octanol-water partition coefficient (KOW) of a surfactant is not a good predictor of that surfactant's sorption onto a hydrophobic medium. Under subsaturation adsorption conditions (i.e., before sorption saturation is reached), surfactant adsorption reduced HOC adsorption to a significant extent, with the reduction in HOC adsorption increasing monotonically with the amount of surfactant adsorbed. Among the three surfactants, Triton X-100 was the most effective in reducing HOC adsorption, whereas BC and LAS showed similar effectiveness in this regard. Under the same amount of the surfactant sorbed, the reduction in atrazine adsorption was consistently greater than that for diuron because of atrazine's lower hydrophobicity. No significant difference was observed in the amount of the HOC adsorbed under different adsorption sequences. Our results showed that the presence of surfactant can significantly decrease HOC adsorption onto hydrophobic environmental media and, thus, is important in predicting HOC fate and transport in the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1237-1243
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Adsorption
  • Carbonaceous geosorbents
  • Hydrophobic organic compounds
  • Lampblack
  • Surfactant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Chemistry


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