The Fate of Polymeric Quaternary Ammonium Salts from Cosmetics in Wastewater Treatment Plants
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Polymeric quaternary ammonium salts or polyquaterniums used in cosmetics have been categorised as chemicals of concern in wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent largely on the basis of emerging evidence of toxicity to aquatic organisms. However, little is known of their environmental fate and behaviour due to analytical difficulties with sample matrices. Their properties of negligible volatilisation and biotransformation enable the common fugacity-based model for WWTPs to be simplified to an equifugacity one where a compound has the same fugacity regardless of phase or position in the plant's process train. To gain an appreciation of their fate, this approach is used to calculate removal efficiencies in WWTPs. These can be determined without calculating phase-specific fugacity capacity constants. To predict effluent concentrations however, an aquivalence approach is necessary because of the lack of volatility of these compounds. Using previously measured biosolids/water distribution coefficients for common polyquaterniums found in cosmetics and flow rate data from a local municipal WWTP in South East Queensland, Australia, the removal efficiencies of the polyquaterniums of interest are predicted to be only 25% or less, meaning relatively little attenuation in the WWTP. A Monte Carlo simulation shows a roughly normal distribution in the model output of polyquaternium removal efficiency, with a mean and mode of approximately 26%. A sensitivity analysis confirms that the model output is most sensitive to the magnitude of the biosolids/water distribution coefficient compound and shows WWTP data such as biosolids removal efficiency have only a relatively small effect.
Water, Air and Soil Pollution
Environmental Chemistry (incl. Atmospheric Chemistry)