The protection of groundwater resources intended for the abstraction of drinking water is a top priority within the European Community (80/86/EEC). A possible contamination arises from surface waters containing residues of surfactants and their metabolites and from sludge-amended soils. The high water solubility of such polar organic compounds makes them mobile; hence they are potential candidates to infiltrate into the ground finally reaching groundwater supplies.
The aim of the work is to assess the transportation of linear alkylbenzene sulfonates, their degradative products sulfophenyl carboxylates as well as nonylphenol ethoxylates and their recalcitrant metabolites nonylphenol carboxylates into groundwater supplies in selected areas in Spain.
To this end sophisticated analytical protocols will be established for the trace analysis of the target compounds in the complex matrices riverine sediments and sludge-amended soils as well as in underlying groundwaters employing liquid chromatography- (tandem) mass spectrometry (LC-MS (MS)) after sample pretreatment by sonication, Soxhlet extraction and/or solid-phase extraction.
The second part of the project will consist of applying these methods to monitor the surfactants and metabolites in several regions in Spain in order to obtain an overview on the extent of groundwater pollution. In case of positive detection groundwater will be submitted to the bioluminescence assay ToxAlert in order to evaluate toxicology effects.