Effect of laundry activities on in-stream concentrations of linear alkylbenzene sulfonate in a small rural South African river

Gordon, A.K. and Muller, W.J. and Gysman, N. and Marshall, S.J. and Sparham, C.J. and O'Connor, S.M. and Whelan, M.J. (2009) Effect of laundry activities on in-stream concentrations of linear alkylbenzene sulfonate in a small rural South African river. Science of the Total Environment, 407 (15). pp. 4465-4471. ISSN 0048-9697



Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.04.023


In many parts of the world clothes are washed near to or in rivers and streams. Little information is available on resulting concentrations of detergent ingredients or on any potential effects caused. In this study, the fate of a commonly used anionic surfactant, linear alkylbenzene sulphonate (LAS) was investigated in a reach of the Balfour River (Eastern Cape Province, South Africa) which was regularly used as a site for laundry activity. Samples of river water were collected upstream of the main washing site and at a number of locations downstream on several occasions in winter and summer. Sediment samples were also collected and analysed. In addition, a household survey was conducted to ascertain the amount of detergent used and the distribution of washing practices. The results of the survey suggested that the use of riverside locations for laundry activities was seasonal. Most washing tended to be done at home during the winter with riverside sites used more frequently during the summer months. The monitoring data showed that LAS concentrations in water were very variable. They were occasionally high in the immediate vicinity of the laundry site (up to 342 µg L− 1) but were generally very low (< 11 µg L− 1) at downstream monitoring stations, suggesting that LAS was rapidly dissipated by a combination of degradation, hydrodynamic dispersion and dilution. Concentrations in the immediate vicinity of the washing site were lower than expected on the basis of the household survey because most waste water was disposed of on the river bank rather than directly in the river. No ecological effects are expected from LAS emissions at this site.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Laundry; Detergent ingredients; Ecological effect; Household surveys; Hydrodynamic dispersions; LAS; Linear alkyl benzene sulphonate; Linear alkylbenzene sulfonates; Monitoring stations; Potential effects; River bank; River water; Sediment samples; Balfour River; Eastern Cape Province; South Africa; Summer months
Subjects:Y Unknown > Subjects to be assigned
Divisions:Research Institutes and Units > Institute for Water Research (IWR)
ID Code:1414
Deposited By: Mrs Eileen Shepherd
Deposited On:08 Jul 2009
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:20
288 full-text download(s) since 08 Jul 2009
112 full-text download(s) in the past 12 months
More statistics...

Repository Staff Only: item control page