Particle-size dependent sorption and desorption of pesticides within a water soil nonionic surfactant system

Peng Wang, Arturo A. Keller

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Although nonionic surfactants have been considered in surfactant-aided soil washing systems, there is little information on the particle-size dependence of these processes, and this may have significant implications forthe design of these systems. In this study, Triton-100 (TX) was selected to study its effect on the sorption and desorption of two pesticides (Atrazine and Diuron) from different primary soil size fractions (clay, silt and sand fractions) under equilibrium sorption and sequential desorption. Soil properties, TX sorption, and pesticide sorption and desorption all exhibited significant particle-size dependence. The cation exchange capacity (CEC) of the bulk soils and the soil fractions determined TX sorption capacity, which in turn determined the desorption efficiency. Desorption of pesticide out of the clay fraction is the limiting factor in a surfactant-aided washing system. The solubilization efficiency of the individual surfactant micelles decreased as the amount of surfactant added to the systems increased. Thus, instead of attempting to wash the bulk soil, a better strategy might be to either (1) use only the amount of surfactant that is sufficient to clean the coarse fraction, then separate the fine fraction, and dispose or treat it separately; or (2) to separate the coarse fractions mechanically and then treatthe coarse and fine fractions separately. These results may be applicable to many other hydrophobic organic compounds such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) strongly sorbed onto soils and sediments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3381-3387
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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