Sources of Detergents in Waters and Wastewaters

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The concentrations of detergent that actually find their way into wastewaters and surface water bodies have quite diverse origins: (a) Soaps and detergents, as well as their component compounds, are introduced into wastewaters and water bodies at the point of their manufacture, at storage facilities and distribution warehouses, and at points of accidental spills on their routes of transportation (the origin of pollution is dealt with in this chapter). (b) The additional industrial origin of detergent pollution notably results from the use of surfactants in various industries, such as textiles, cosmetics, leather tanning and products, paper, metals, dyes and paints, production of domestic soaps and detergents, and from the use of detergents in commercial/industrial laundries and dry cleaners. (c) The contribution from agricultural activities is due to the surface runoff transporting of surfactants that are included in the formulation of insecticides and fungicides [27]. (d) The origin with the most rapid growth since the 1950s comprises the wastewaters from urban areas and it is due to the increased domestic usage of detergents and, equally important, their use in cleaning public spaces, sidewalks, and street surfaces.

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