The 2 800-km reach of the Mississippi River between Minneapolis, MN, and New Orleans, LA, was examined for the occurrence and fate of linear alkylbenzene sulfonate (LAS), a common anionic surfactant found in municipal sewage effluents. River water and bottom sediment were sampled in the summer and fall of 1991 and in the spring of 1992. LAS was analyzed using solid- phase extraction/derivatization/gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. LAS was present on all bottom sediments at concentrations ranging from 0.01 to 20 mg/kg and was identified in 21% of the water samples at concentrations ranging from 0.1 to 28.2 ??g/L. The results indicate that LAS is a ubiquitous contaminant on Mississippi River bottom sediments and that dissolved LAS is present mainly downstream from the sewage outfalls of major cities. The removal of the higher LAS homologs and external isomers indicates that sorption and biodegradation are the principal processes affecting dissolved LAS. Sorbed LAS appears to degrade slowly.
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Fate of linear alkylbenzene sulfonate in the Mississippi River