Meta-analysis of environmental contamination by alkylphenols

Abstract

Alkylphenols and alkylphenol ethoxylates (APE) are toxics classified as endocrine-disrupting compounds; they are used in detergents, paints, herbicides, pesticides, emulsifiers, wetting and dispersing agents, antistatic agents, demulsifiers, and solubilizers. Many studies have reported the occurrence of alkylphenols in different environmental matrices, though none of these studies have yet to establish a comprehensive overview of such compounds in the water cycle within an urban environment. This review summarizes APE concentrations for all environmental media throughout the water cycle, from the atmosphere to receiving waters. Once the occurrence of compounds has been assessed for each environmental compartment (urban wastewater, wastewater treatment plants [WWTP], atmosphere, and the natural environment), data are examined in order to understand the fate of APE in the environment and establish their geographical and historical trends. From this database, it is clear that the environment in Europe is much more contaminated by APE compared to North America and developing countries, although these APE levels have been decreasing in the last decade. APE concentrations in the WWTP effluent of developed countries have decreased by a factor of 100 over the past 30 years. This study is aimed at identifying both the correlations existing between environmental compartments and the processes that influence the fate and transport of these contaminants in the environment. In industrial countries, the concentrations observed in waterways now represent the background level of contamination, which provides evidence of a past diffuse pollution in these countries, whereas sediment analyses conducted in developing countries show an increase in APE content over the last several years. Finally, similar trends have been observed in samples drawn from Europe and North America.

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Bergé, A., Cladière, M., Gasperi, J. et al. Meta-analysis of environmental contamination by alkylphenols. Environ Sci Pollut Res 19, 3798–3819 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-012-1094-7

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Keywords

  • Nonylphenol
  • Nonylphenol ethoxylate
  • Review
  • State-of-the-art