Partitioning of hydrophobic pesticides within a soil-water-anionic surfactant system

Peng Wang, Arturo A. Keller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Surfactants can be added to pesticide-contaminated soils to enhance the treatment efficiency of soil washing. Our results showed that pesticide (atrazine and diuron) partitioning and desorbability within a soil-water-anionic surfactant system is soil particle-size dependent and is significantly influenced by the presence of anionic surfactant. Anionic surfactant (linear alkylbenzene sulphonate, LAS) sorption was influenced by its complexation with both the soluble and exchangeable divalent cations in soils (e.g. Ca2+, Mg2+). In this study, we propose a new concept: soil system hardness which defines the total amount of soluble and exchangeable divalent cations associated with a soil. Our results showed that anionic surfactant works better with soils having lower soil system hardness. It was also found that the hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs) sorbed onto the LAS-divalent cation precipitate, resulting in a significant decrease in the aqueous concentration of HOC. Our results showed that the effect of exchangeable cations and sorption of HOC onto the surfactant precipitates needs to be considered to accurately predict HOC behavior within soil-water-anionic surfactant systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)706-714
Number of pages9
JournalWater research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Anionic surfactant
  • Hydrophobic organic compounds
  • Soil contamination
  • Surfactant-aided soil washing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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