Vol. 2, No. 1 – Preface

Vol. 2, No. 1 (June 1996) – Preface


Surfactants and Sustainability: Enhancing Our Understanding

 Welcome to the second edition of The CLER Review. This special edition of the journal focuses on the papers being presented during the upcoming 4th World Surfactants Congress in Barcelona, Spain, June 3-7, 1996.

The congress, organized by the European Committee for Surfactants and their Organic Intermediates (CESIO), is the premier scientific conference on laundry and cleaning product ingredients and is held every four years.

In this issue you will find four original studies by members of the Council for LAB/LAS Environmental Research and its sister organization in Europe, the European Center On Studies Of LAB/LAS (ECOSOL).These papers build upon the vast amount of information already available.

The studies featured in this edition are:

  • In their presentation titled “Structural Elucidation of Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate (LAS) Biodegradation Intermediates,” Luciano Cavalli, Giorgio Cassani and Camilla Maraschin of CONDEA Augusta (Milan, Italy), seek to expand our understanding of the biodegradation pathway of LAS. They achieve their goal by describing the isolation and chemical structure of the principle biodegradation intermediates of linear and iso-branched LAS components and commercial LAS.
  • Model compounds were used to study the biodegradation of LAS and its co-products, in the paper titled “Biodegradation of Co-Products of Commercial LAS” by Allen Nielsen and Larry Britton of CONDEA Vista (Austin, Texas), Luciano Cavalli of CONDEA Augusta (Milan, Italy) and Jose Luis Berna of Petresa (Madrid, Spain). The results of their work demonstrate that LAS and its co-products are extensively biodegraded during sewage treatment and that residual levels continue to biodegrade completely in aquatic and soil environments.
  • The third paper in this issue, “The Fate of LAS in Untreated Sewage and High Sludge Soils” features extensive research and analysis by Juan de Ferrer and Alfonso Moreno of Petresa (Cadiz, Spain) and M. Teresa Vaquero and Luis Comellas of the Instituto Quimico de Sarria (Barcelona, Spain). This real-world monitoring study examines what happens to LAS in two high loading (worst case) scenarios: sewage that is discharged untreated into a small river and sewage sludge that is mixed in a high ratio (15 percent) with soil for land reclamation. The results in both cases demonstrate that LAS is rapidly and extensively biodegraded. As a result, LAS levels in downstream river water and in soil after 15 days are low and pose no risk to aquatic or soil organisms.
  • The final paper titled “Sustainability of Petrochemical and Oleochemical Surfactants” by John Heinze of CLER argues that sustainability, contrary to the common understanding, is an issue for both oleochemical and petrochemical-derived surfactants. This policy review and analysis paper concludes that only by working together can the surfactants industry make progress on this important challenge to its long-term survival and growth.

These four studies – and their appearance together in this issue of The CLER Review – are the result of a high degree of cooperation between the scientists and member companies of CLER and those of ECOSOL. These organizations have worked together since their founding to conduct research and inform industry on the effect that global environmental issues may have on the worldwide use of LAB and LAS.

The past year has been a very good one for environmental research on LAS. I am pleased that The CLER Review is able to provide you with four high quality studies on LAS and look forward to the presentations during the CESIO conference in Barcelona.

John E. Heinze, Ph.D.
Editor, The CLER Review