Effect of surfactants on the removal and acute toxicity of aqueous nC60 aggregates in water treatment process.

Research paper by Ling L Ge, George G Kirumba, Bo B Zhang, Amrita A Pal, Yiliang Y He

Indexed on: 30 Jan '15Published on: 30 Jan '15Published in: Environmental Science and Pollution Research


This work aimed to evaluate the effect of surfactants on the removal of aqueous nC60 aggregates by coagulation-filtration process and assess the acute toxicity of filtrates by Microtox test. Three surfactants including cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB), sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), and Triton X-100 (TX100) were selected representing cationic, anionic, and nonionic types, respectively. Results showed that the change of physicochemical properties of nC60 associating with different types of surfactants determined nC60's removal efficiency and acute toxicity. CTAB increased the number of large particles. It also changed the zeta potential of nC60 from negative to positive, leading to the low removal rates (17.3-50.2%) when CTAB concentration was designed in the range of 0.03-1 g/L, and the filtrates showed acute toxicity to bioluminescent bacteria (inhibition rate > 80%). On the contrary, TX100 obviously increased the proportion of small particles, and it is noteworthy that even less than 1 mg/L of nC60 (20% of the initial concentration) with TX100 remaining in filtrates could evoke phototoxicity due to reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation under UV irradiation. Compared to CTAB and TX100, SDS exerted an effect on the removal process and toxicity of nC60 only when concentration was beyond the critical micelle concentration (CMC; 2.5 g/L). These findings collectively suggest that characteristics of nC60 are flexible and strongly dependent on surfactant modification, as a result of which these particles could potentially find their way through water treatment route and exert a potential toxicity risk.