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Solubility and reactivity of surfactant-enhanced alkaline hydrolysis of organophosphorus pesticide DNAPL

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The study presented in this paper evaluated the effectiveness of surfactants in enhancing mass removal of organophosphorus pesticides (OPPs) from soil under highly alkaline conditions and potential for enhancing in situ alkaline hydrolysis for treatment of OPPs, particularly parathion (EP3) and methyl parathion (MP3). In control and surfactant experiments, hydrolysis products EP2 acid, MP2 acid, and PNP were formed in non-stoichiometric amounts indicating instability of these compounds. MP3 and malathion were found to have faster hydrolysis rates than EP3 under the conditions studied. All surfactants evaluated increased solubility of OPPs under alkaline conditions with four nonionic alcohol ethoxylate products providing the greater affect over the polyglucosides, sulfonate, and propionate surfactants evaluated. The alcohol ethoxylates were shown to provide substantial mass removal of OPPs from soil. Hydrolysis rates were typically slower in the presence of surfactant, despite the relatively higher aqueous concentrations of OPPs; this was likely due to micellar solubilization of the OPPs which were therefore less accessible for hydrolysis. The results of this study support the use of surfactants for contaminant mass removal from soil, particularly under alkaline conditions, and may have implications for use of some surfactants in combination with other technologies for treatment of OPPs.

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Acknowledgments go to the NorthPestClean project team for funding and fruitful discussions of the study. In addition to the authors of this paper, it includes Anja Melvej Hermansen, Børge Hvidbjerg, Kaspar Rüegg, and Lars Ernst from Region Midtjylland. From Meijer, Erik Petrovskis is acknowledged. Bo Breinbjerg from Cheminova A/S is gratefully acknowledged for help with the chemical analysis of soil and water samples.

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Correspondence to Jens Muff.

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Muff, J., MacKinnon, L., Durant, N.D. et al. Solubility and reactivity of surfactant-enhanced alkaline hydrolysis of organophosphorus pesticide DNAPL. Environ Sci Pollut Res 27, 3428–3439 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-019-07152-0

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  • Surfactant
  • In situ remediation
  • Alkaline hydrolysis
  • Organophosphorus pesticides
  • Parathion