Occurrence and temporal variations of TMDD in the river Rhine, Germany

  • Background, aim, and scope: The chemical substance 2,4,7,9-tetramethyl-5-decyne-4,7-diol (TMDD) is a non-ionic surfactant used as an industrial defoaming agent and in various other applications. Its commercial name is Surynol 104® and the related ethoxylates are also available as Surfynol® 420, 440, 465 and 485 which are characterized by different grades of ethoxylation of TMDD at both hydroxyl functional groups. TMDD and its ethoxylates offer several advantages in waterborne industrial applications in coatings, inks, adhesives as well as in paper industries. TMDD and its ethoxylates can be expected to reach the aquatic environment due its widespread use and its physico-chemical properties. TMDD has previously been detected in several rivers of Germany with concentrations up to 2.5 µg/L. In the United States, TMDD was also detected in drinking water. However, detailed studies about its presence and distribution in the aquatic environment have not been carried out so far. The aim of the present study was the analysis of the spatial and temporal concentration variations of TMDD in the river Rhine at the Rheingütestation Worms (443.3 km). Moreover, the transported load in the Rhine was investigated during two entire days and 7 weeks between November 2007 and January 2008. Materials and methods: The sampling was carried out at three different sampling points across the river. Sampling point MWL1 is located in the left part of the river, MWL2 in the middle part, and MWL4 in the right part. One more sampling site (MWL3) was run by the monitoring station until the end of 2006, but was put out of service due to financial constrains. The water at the left side of the river Rhine (MWL1) is influenced by sewage from a big chemical plant in Ludwigshafen and by the sewage water from this city. The water at the right side of the river Rhine (MWL4) is largely composed of the water inflow from river Neckar, discharging into Rhine 14.9 km upstream from the sampling point and of communal and industrial wastewater from the city Mannheim. The water from the middle of the river (MWL2) is largely composed of water from the upper Rhine. Water samples were collected in 1-L bottles by an automatic sampler. The water samples were concentrated by use of solid-phase extraction (SPE) using Bond Elut PPL cartridges and quantified by use of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The quantification was carried out with the internal standard method. Based on these results, concentration variations were determined for the day profiles and week profiles. The total number of analyzed samples was 219. Results: The results of this study provide information on the temporal concentration variability of TMDD in river Rhine in a cross section at one particular sampling point (443.3 km). TMDD was detected in all analyzed water samples at high concentrations. The mean concentrations during the 2 days were 314 ng/L in MWL1, 246 ng/L in MWL2, and 286 ng/L in MWL4. The variation of concentrations was low in the day profiles. In the week profiles, a trend of increasing TMDD concentrations was detected particularly in January 2008, when TMDD concentrations reached values up to 1,330 ng/L in MWL1. The mean TMDD concentrations during the week profiles were 540 ng/L in MWL1, 484 ng/L in MWL2, and 576 ng/L in MWL4. The loads of TMDD were also determined and revealed to be comparable in all three sections of the river. The chemical plant located at the left side of the Rhine is not contributing additional TMDD to the river. The load of TMDD has been determined to be 62.8 kg/d on average during the entire period. By extrapolation of data obtained from seven week profiles the annual load was calculated to 23 t/a. Discussion: The permanent high TMDD concentrations during the investigation period indicate an almost constant discharge of TMDD into the river. This observation argues for effluents of municipal wastewater treatment plants as the most likely source of TMDD in the river. Another possible source might be the degradation of ethoxylates of TMDD (Surfynol® series 400), in the WWTPs under formation of TMDD followed by discharge into the river. TMDD has to be considered as a high-production-volume (HPV) chemical based on the high concentrations found in this study. In the United States, TMDD is already in the list of HPV chemicals from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, the amount of TMDD production in Europe is unknown so far and also the biodegradation rates of TMDD in WWTPs have not been investigated. Conclusions: TMDD was found in high concentrations during the entire sampling period in the Rhine river at the three sampling points. During the sampling period, TMDD concentrations remained constant in each part of the river. These results show that TMDD is uniformly distributed in the water collected at three sampling points located across the river. ‘Waves’ of exceptionally high concentrations of TMDD could not be detected during the sampling period. These results indicate that the effluents of WWTPs have to be considered as the most important sources of TMDD in river Rhine. Recommendations and perspectives: Based also on the occurrence of TMDD in different surface waters of Germany with concentrations up to 2,500 ng/L and its presence in drinking water in the USA, more detailed investigations regarding its sources and distribution in the aquatic environment are required. Moreover, the knowledge with respect to its ecotoxicity and its biodegradation pathway is scarce and has to be gained in more detail. Further research is necessary to investigate the rate of elimination of TMDD in municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants in order to clarify the degradation rate of TMDD and to determine to which extent effluents of WWTPs contribute to the input of TMDD into surface waters. Supplementary studies are needed to clarify whether the ethoxylates of TMDD (known as Surfynol 400® series) are hydrolyzed in the aquatic environment resulting in formation of TMDD similar to the well known cleavage of nonylphenol ethoxylates into nonylphenols. The stability of TMDD under anaerobic conditions in groundwater is also unknown and should be studied.

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Author:Arlen A. Guedez, Stephan Frömmel, Peter Diehl, Wilhelm Püttmann
Parent Title (English):Environmental science and pollution research
Place of publication:Berlin ; Heidelberg
Document Type:Article
Year of Completion:2014
Date of first Publication:2009/06/13
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2014/02/03
Tag:2,4,7,9-tetramethyl-5-decyne-4,7-diol; Quantification; River Rhine; Solid-phase extraction; Surfactants; TMDD; TMDD spatial and temporal concentration variations
Volume:17 (2010)
Page Number:10
First Page:321
Last Page:330
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.
Institutes:Geowissenschaften / Geographie / Geowissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung-Nicht kommerziell 3.0