Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 333–341

Benzotriazoles, Alkylphenols and Bisphenol A in Municipal Wastewaters and in the Glatt River, Switzerland


DOI: 10.1065/espr2006.01.295

Cite this article as:
Voutsa, D., Hartmann, P., Schaffner, C. et al. Env Sci Poll Res Int (2006) 13: 333. doi:10.1065/espr2006.01.295



DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1065/espr2006.01.295


Many organic micropollutants occur at trace concentrations in municipal wastewater effluents and in the aquatic environment. Some of these xenobiotic chemicals can be considered as 'emerging' contaminants and some are suspect to have endocrine disrupting effects. Among the latter are nonylphenol (NP), octylphenol (OP) and bisphenol A (BPA), which deserve special attention due to their ubiquitous occurrence in the aquatic environment. The complexing agents benzotriazole (BT) and tolyltriazole (TT) are applied as anticorrosive agents (e.g. in cooling and hydraulic fluids, in antifreezing fluids, in aircraft deicing fluids, in dish washing liquids for silver protection), as antifogging agents and as intermediates for the synthesis of various chemicals. The environmental occurrence of NP and OP is caused by the fact that they are intermediate products (metabolites) in the biodegradation of alkylphenol polyethoxylate surfactants. BPA is globally used for the production of polycarbonate and epoxy resins.


BT, TT, NP, OP and BPA were quantitatively determined in municipal wastewater effluents in Switzerland and in the Glatt River. The analytes were enriched by solid-phase enrichment. BT and TT were determined underivatized by electrospray LC/tandem MS. Reversed-phase LC was performed on octylsilica columns with isocratic water/methanol elution. Multiple reaction monitoring of the positive ions provided selective and sensitive detection for reliable quantifications. NP, OP and BPA were determined by GC/MS after derivatization with N-methyl-N-(trimethylsilyl)-trifluoroacetamide.

Results and Discussion

BT and TT concentrations in primary and secondary effluents of municipal wastewater treatment plants varied from below 10 to 100 µg/L. The ranges of the concentrations in the Glatt River in ng/L were 636–3,690 for BT, 122–628 for TT, 68–326 for NP, 6–22 for OP and 9–76 for BPA. The corresponding mass flows in g/d were 93–1,870 for BT, 18–360 for TT, 24–183 for NP, 1–16 for OP and 2–72 for BPA. The concentrations and mass flows of NP in the River Glatt were drastically lower than the analogous values found 15 years ago. Thus, a substantially decreased environmental exposure can be observed due to the reduction of the use of alkyphenol polyethoxylate surfactants in Switzerland. The current concentrations of NP, OP and BPA are within the ranges reported for weakly impacted surface waters.


The investigated contaminants occur at quantitatively measurable but varying concentrations in municipal wastewaters and in the Glatt River reflecting their ubiquitous input into wastewaters and their different behaviour during biological wastewater treatment.

corrosion inhibitorsxenoestrogenstolyltriazoleoctylphenolAlkylphenolnonylphenolendocrine disruptersbisphenol Abenzotriazole

Copyright information

© Ecomed 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dr. Dimitra Voutsa Assistant Professor Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Department of Chemistry 54124 Thessaloniki GREECE  
  2. 2.Paul Hartmann Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) 8600 Dübendorf SWITZERLAND  
  3. 3.Christian Schaffner Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) 8600 Dübendorf SWITZERLAND  
  4. 4.Walter Giger Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag) 8600 Dübendorf SWITZERLAND