Atrazine, in spite of the restrictions concerning its use, remains one of the most prevalent pesticides in natural surface waters. If a sudden pollution incident occurs, powdered activated carbon (PAC) is used during the flocculation step of water treatment; under such circumstances, atrazine might be in adsorption competition with surfactants included in commercial formulations. The aim of this study was thus to determine the influence of three surfactants [anionic (sodium dodecylsulphate, SDS), cationic (hexadecyl-trimethylammonium bromide, HTAB) and nonionic (2-dodecyloxy-pentaethanoxy)-ethanol, DE6)] on atrazine adsorption onto PAC.
At pH 5.5, adsorption onto PAC of atrazine alone was estimated to be 230 mg. g-¹; it was inhibited whatever the nature of the surfactant (cationic anionic or nonionic: figs. 2, 3 and 4). The adsorption capacities (Langmuir) and the kinetic constants (Adams & Bohart) decreased in the presence of the surfactants (table 4) and this diminution was most important for HTAB (fig. 5), perhaps the consequence of a steric effect.
The adsorption onto PAC of the molecular form of atrazine (pK=1.68) was not affected by the pH variations. However, when the pH was increased (3.5 to 10) in the presence of SDS, adsorption onto PAC of the anionic surfactant decreased and atrazine adsorption increased (fig. 9). In contrast, for the same experimental conditions but with the cationic surfactant HTAB, adsorption of the surfactant increased over the pH range 3.5 to 10 and the relative adsorption of atrazine diminished (fig. 9). The nonionic surfactant DE6 had no influence.
A study of the introduction order of the different components (atrazine, SDS surfactant and PAC) showed the same final equilibrium distribution of atrazine was obtained (fig. 10), regardless of the order of introduction. A similar result was obtained for the adsorption of SDS (fig. 11).
For all these cases, the Langmuir equation yielded the adsorption capacity for atrazine and the equilibrium constant. However, competitive and noncompetitive adsorption models (table 1) were unsuccessful in predicting the nature of the interactions between atrazine and the surfactants (table 5).
Adsorption, co-adsorption, powered activated carbon, PAC, atrazine, surfactants.
M Mazet, Laboratoire Traitement des Eaux et des Déchets, Faculté des Sciences, Université de Limoges, 123 avenue Albert Thomas, 87060 Limoges, FRANCE