Anionic surfactants produce a negatively charged surfactant ion in aqueous solution, usually derived from a sulfate, carboxylate, or sulfonate grouping. The usual types of these compounds are carboxylic acids and derivatives (largely based on natural oils), sulfonic acid derivatives (alkylbenzene sulfonates LAS or ABS and other sulfonates), and sulfuric acid esters and salts (largely sulfated alcohols and ethers). Alkyl sulfates are readily biodegradable, often disappearing within 24 hours in river water or sewage plants . Because of their instability in acidic conditions, they were to a considerable extent replaced by ABS and LAS, which have been the most widely used of the surfactants because of their excellent cleaning properties, chemical stability, and low cost. Their biodegradation has been the subject of numerous investigations .
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