Fate and effects of amphoteric surfactants in the aquatic environment (2023)

Section snippets


The amphoteric surfactants tested were: three alkyl betaines (decyl dimethyl-, dodecyl dimethyl- and tetradecyl dimethyl betaine; C10-Bet, C12-Bet and C14-Bet, respectively), one alkylamido betaine (cocoamidopropyl dimethyl betaine; Amido-Bet) and three alkyl imidazoline derivatives (decyl-, dodecyl- and tetradecyl monocarboxymethylated imidazoline derivative; C10-Imi, C12-Imi and C14-Imi respectively). The alkyl betaines and alkyl imidazoline derivatives were supplied by Albright and Wilson

Aerobic biodegradability

As stated in the above section, the aerobic ultimate biodegradability of amphoteric surfactants was evaluated by means of the CO2 headspace test. This test is included in the European Regulation on biodegradability of detergent surfactants (EC, 2004) and is the reference method for laboratory testing of ultimate biodegradability. A surfactant is considered as readily biodegradable if the biodegradation level exceeds 60% within 28days in this test.

The biodegradation curves obtained for the


Alkyl betaines, alkylamido betaines and alkyl imidazoline derivatives are readily mineralized under aerobic conditions. Alkylamido betaines and alkyl imidazoline derivatives are readily biodegraded under anaerobic conditions whereas alkyl betaines exhibit a negligible biotransformation. Acute toxicity values of the amphoteric surfactants studied are higher than 5mg/L and alkyl imidazoline derivatives are the compounds that are the least toxic to the aquatic organisms tested, P. phosphoreum and


The authors are grateful to Anna Lupon (EDAR Manresa, Barcelona) for supplying the WWTP samples.

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What are the benefits of amphoteric surfactants? ›

Amphoterics surfactants have many effects such as cleansing, foaming, emulsifying, solubilizing, low toxicity, easy-biodegradation and so on. In addition, the application of amphoteric surfactants is related closely to the synergistic effects of amphoteric surfactant with other surfactants.

Are amphoteric surfactants toxic? ›

Both cationic and amphoteric surfactants cause high or moderate acute toxicity on fish, crustaceans, algae and bacteria.

What is an amphoteric surfactant? ›

The head of an ionic surfactant carries a net positive, or negative, charge. If the charge is negative, the surfactant is more specifically called anionic; if the charge is positive, it is called cationic. If a surfactant contains a head with two oppositely charged groups, it is termed zwitterionic, or amphoteric.

What are the names of amphoteric surfactants? ›

Alkyl amido propyl betaines
Empigen® BB/HPLauryl BetaineMild surfactant, foam stabilizer
Empigen® BS/FECocamidopropyl BetaineMild surfactant, foam stabilizer
Empigen® BS/HICocamidopropyl BetaineMild surfactant, foam stabilizer
Empigen® BS/H50Cocamidopropyl BetaineMild surfactant, foam stabilizer
1 more row

What effects do surfactants have on the environment? ›

After use, residual surfactants are discharged into sewage systems or directly into surface waters, and most of them end up dispersed in different environmental compartments such as soil, water or sediment. The toxic effects of surfactants on various aquatic organisms are well known.

How do surfactants help the environment? ›

Biodegradable surfactants can be applied to the soil to increase water absorption. Surfactants create hydrophilic surfaces when applied to the soil while simultaneously binding to hydrophobic soil molecules. This reduces surface tension between soil molecules, which allows the water to penetrate the ground.

What is the negative impact of surfactants? ›

While soaps and surfactants differ in their composition and cleaning chemistry, their health hazards are similar. Both can disrupt lipid membranes that protect cells, and this causes irritation to skin, eyes, and respiratory systems.

Is surfactant harmful to humans? ›

Anionic a~d nonionic surfactants are relatively non-toxic to mammals, falling in the· same general range as sodium chloride or sodium bicarbonate.

Are amphoteric surfactants natural? ›

Because of the fact that most readily available charged surfactants aren't 'natural', all-natural formulas with surfactants are quite the challenge. For example, the amphoteric surfactant Cocamidopropyl betaine is naturally derived, but it also has some synthetic parts to it.

What are 5 example of amphoteric? ›


What are 5 examples of amphoteric substance? ›

Amphoteric Hydroxides
  • Aluminium hydroxide.
  • Zinc hydroxide.
  • Copper hydroxide.
  • Chromium hydroxide.
  • Beryllium hydroxide.
  • Tin hydroxide.

What are two examples of amphoteric? ›

The oxides which behave as both acidic and basic oxides are called amphoteric oxides. Examples- aluminium oxide (Al2O3), zinc oxide (ZnO).

What is the most common example of an amphoteric substance? ›

What are examples of amphoteric? Water is the most important amphoteric substance. It acts as an acid when reacting with ammonia and as a base when reacting with hydrochloric acid.

What is the most common amphoteric? ›

Water is the most common amphoteric substance.

What is the means of amphoteric? ›

In chemistry, an amphoteric substance is a substance that has the ability to act either as an acid or a base. Remember that acids donate protons (or accept electron pairs) and bases accept protons.

How does surfactant affect aquatic life? ›

Surfactant detergents are implicated in decreasing the breeding ability of aquatic organisms. Detergents also add another problem for aquatic life by lowering the surface tension of the water.

What effect do surfactants have on water? ›

A surfactant is a substance that reduces the surface tension of a liquid. For instance, a small puddle of water on a desk has high surface tension. But adding a surfactant such as dish soap to the puddle would reduce its surface tension and cause the water to spread out more.

What is the effect of surfactant in water? ›

When a surfactant is introduced to a liquid like water, some of the surfactant molecules migrate to the surface of the water. This creates a layer of weakly attracted molecules on the surface of this water/surfactant compound. The surface tension of this liquid is lower than if it were just water.

Are surfactant detergents harmful to the environment? ›

Surfactant detergents are implicated in decreasing the breeding ability of aquatic organisms. Detergents are molecules that are amphiphilic in nature with a hydrophobic hydrocarbon tail and a hydrophilic head group.

Are surfactants eco friendly? ›

Eco-friendly! GlycoSurf manufactures several different classes of sugar-based green surfactants including rhamnolipids, rhamnosides, and glucosides. Green Surfactants are made entirely from renewable resources, and are commonly referred to as glycolipids. They are readily biodegradable and exhibit low-toxicity.

What are surfactants and why are they important? ›

What is a Surfactant? Surfactants are a primary component of cleaning detergents. The word surfactant means surface active agent. As the name implies, surfactants stir up activity on the surface you are cleaning to help trap dirt and remove it from the surface.

Are surfactants good or bad? ›

These are negatively charged surfactants, good at removing oil and dirt from your skin's surface. Anionic surfactants are the most commonly used variety as primary detergents in soaps, shampoos and cosmetics having strong cleansing effects. However, they can also be harsh and irritating to your skin.

Which surfactants are toxic? ›

Ionic surfactants are the most toxic if they are soluble in water. Crystalline ionic surfactants of low solubility show low toxicity. The sign of the charge, anionic or cationic, does not matter.

What is a common example of surfactant? ›

Examples include sodium alkylbenzene sulfonates, sodium stearate (a soap), and potassium alcohol sulfates. Anionic surfactants are ionic and are made up of two ions positively charged, usually metal, ion and a negatively charged organic ion.

Which of the following is an example of amphoteric species? ›

Zinc oxide is an amphoteric oxide that can react with both acid as well as a base.

Why is water amphoteric? ›

The oxygen atom in the water molecule has two lone pairs, one of which could be used to form a bond with a proton and, therefore, the water molecule could act as a base in a reaction. Since water has the potential to act both as an acid and as a base, water is amphoteric.

Is water an amphoteric substance? ›

Water is the most common example, which behaves both as an acid as well as a base, thereby is amphoteric in nature.

How do you identify amphoteric? ›

Amphoteric substances can be identified by repeatedly removing hydrogen ions from an acid or by repeatedly adding hydrogen ions to a base. NO−2 is not amphoteric because it is not an acid--it has no more hydrogen ions, let alone more hydrogen ions than can be removed.

What are three amphoteric elements? ›

Some other elements which form amphoteric oxides are gallium, indium, scandium, titanium, zirconium, chromium, iron, cobalt, copper, silver, gold, germanium, antimony, bismuth, beryllium, and tellurium.

What is an example of an amphoteric reaction? ›

Amphoteric oxides are oxides that react with both acids and bases to produce salt and water. PbO and Al2O3 are two examples. Amphoteric oxides are compounds that react with acids and bases to produce salt and water. Lead oxide (PbO) and aluminium oxide (Al2O3) are two examples of oxides.

What are 3 examples of amphoteric oxides? ›

  • Amphoteric oxides: The oxides which have a tendency to react with both acid and base to form salt and water are known as amphoteric oxides.
  • Examples of amphoteric oxides are: Aluminium oxide Al 2 O 3 , Zinc oxide.

What is an example of amphoteric water? ›

Examples of Amphoterism

For example, consider the amphoterism of water (H2O): Water accepts a proton when reacted with an acid, such as hydrochloric acid (HCl). Water donates a proton when it reacts with a base, such as ammonia (NH3).

Is water the most common amphoteric substance? ›

Water is the most common amphoteric substance, which means that, depending on the circumstances, water can behave either as an acid or as a base.

Is water amphoteric or Amphiprotic? ›

Molecules or ions which can either donate or accept a proton, depending on their circumstances, are called amphiprotic species. The most important amphiprotic species is water itself.

What are the properties of amphoteric substances? ›

Amphoteric Oxides have features of acidic as well as basic oxides that neutralize both acids and bases.” Amphoteric oxides dissolve in water to form alkaline solutions. Alkaline solutions contain hydroxide ions. Thus aluminium oxide (Al2O3) reacts with hydrochloric acid to form aluminium chloride and water.

Which species is amphoteric in nature? ›

Hint: Amphoteric species are the species that have the potential to act both as an acid and as a base according to Bronsted-Lowry theory and are said to be amphoteric. The word comes from the Greek amphoteros meaning each or both of two“.

What elements are amphoteric? ›

Many metals (such as copper, zinc, tin, lead, aluminium, and beryllium) form amphoteric oxides or hydroxides.

What are the advantages of surfactants? ›

Uses & Benefits

Surfactants added to cleaning agents, like detergent, allow the detergent to mix into water, helping cleaning agents remove dirt from the surface being cleaned. Without surfactants, soaps wouldn't mix with the water, but would just roll off the water, making the cleaning process much more difficult.

What are the benefits of surfactant on skin? ›

In cosmetics, surfactants are used for cleansing, foaming, thickening, emulsifying, solubilizing, penetration enhancement, antimicrobial effects, and other special effects. The key property of surfactant molecules that makes them useful cosmetic ingredients is that they are compatible with both water and oil.

What is the importance of amphoteric oxides? ›

Amphoteric oxides are oxygen compounds that show both acidic and basic characteristics. These oxides undergo a neutralisation reaction to form water and salt as they react with acid. This demonstrates the essential properties of the compounds.

Is amphoteric surfactant used for sensitive skin? ›

Amphoteric surfactants

The major advantage of amphoteric surfactants is that they are less irritating to the skin and eyes. Such surfactants are extensively used to make baby products and gentle cleansers for sensitive skin because of their mildness. Surfactants are an integral part of almost all cosmetic formulations.

What are the 3 main functions of surfactant? ›

The main functions of surfactant are as follows: (1) lowering surface tension at the air–liquid interface and thus preventing alveolar collapse at end-expiration, (2) interacting with and subsequent killing of pathogens or preventing their dissemination, and (3) modulating immune responses.

What is surfactant and why is it important? ›

Surfactant is released from the lung cells and spreads across the tissue that surrounds alveoli. This substance lowers surface tension, which keeps the alveoli from collapsing after exhalation and makes breathing easy.

What is surfactant used to treat? ›

Surfactant replacement therapy may be considered in: Severe meconium aspiration syndrome with severe respiratory failure – may improve oxygenation and reduce the need for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) Pulmonary haemorrhage with clinical deterioration.

What is amphoteric used for? ›

Ampholytes are used to establish a stable pH gradient for use in isoelectric focusing. Metal oxides which react with both acids as well as bases to produce salts and water are known as amphoteric oxides. Many metals (such as zinc, tin, lead, aluminium, and beryllium) form amphoteric oxides or hydroxides.

What is the significance of water being amphoteric? ›

The oxygen atom in the water molecule has two lone pairs, one of which could be used to form a bond with a proton and, therefore, the water molecule could act as a base in a reaction. Since water has the potential to act both as an acid and as a base, water is amphoteric.

What is the importance of water as one of the amphoteric substances? ›

In the case of water it auto ionises to and it reacts with another to form hydroxide ion and hydronium ion while auto ionising. So water itself acts as a proton donor and proton acceptor. So it is an amphoteric substance.

What is the most powerful surfactant? ›

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is the strongest surfactant and is very effective at stripping all oils, including the natural protective ones.

What are examples of amphoteric chemicals? ›

  • Amphoteric oxides are oxides that have both acidic and basic properties or that can react with both acid and base.
  • Some examples of amphoteric oxides are Zinc oxide , Aluminium oxide Al 2 O 3 ,and Sodium oxide Na 2 O , Gallium oxide Ga 2 O 3 .

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