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Open AccessArticle

Environmental Fate and Effects of Foaming Agents Containing Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate in Soil Debris from Mechanized Tunneling

Institute of Polar Sciences—National Research Council (ISP-CNR), 00010 Rome, Italy
Water Research Institute—National Research Council (IRSA-CNR), 00010 Rome, Italy
Department of Ecological and Biological Science (DEB-Tuscia University), 01100 Viterbo, Italy
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Milano Bicocca, 20126 Milan, Italy
Institute of Research on Terrestrial Ecosystems—National Research Council (IRET-CNR), 00010 Rome, Italy
Institute for Biological Systems—National Research Council (ISB-CNR), 00010 Rome, Italy
Italian Institute of Health (ISS)-Environmental and Health Department, 00161 Rome, Italy
ITALFERR S.p.A, 00155 Rome, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(8), 2074;
Received: 3 June 2020 / Revised: 16 July 2020 / Accepted: 19 July 2020 / Published: 22 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Fate of Contaminants in the Aquatic Environment)
A wide use of foaming agents as lubricants is required in mechanized tunneling. Their main component, the anionic surfactant sodium lauryl ether sulphate (SLES), can remain in residual concentrations in soil debris, influencing their potential reuse as by-product. This study aimed at evaluating the environmental fate and effects of a foaming product used for conditioning soils collected from real excavation sites, in the presence/absence of an anti-clogging polymer, both containing SLES. Soil microcosm experiments were set-up and incubated for 28 days. Over time, soils and their water extracts (elutriates) were collected to perform both ecotoxicological tests (Vibrio fischeri, Lepidium sativum, Eisenia foetida, Hetereocypris incongruens, Danio rerio) and SLES analysis. The results showed that, just after conditioning, SLES did not exert any hazardous effect on the organisms tested except for the bacterium V. fischeri, which was the most sensitive to its presence. However, from day seven the toxic effect on the bacterium was never observed thanks to the SLES decrease in the elutriates (<2 mg/L). SLES degraded in soils (half-lives from 9 to 25 days) with higher disappearance rates corresponding to higher values of microbial abundances. This study highlights the importance of site-specific studies for assessing the environmental reuse of spoil materials. View Full-Text
Keywords: TBM-EPB excavation; SLES; spoil material; ecotoxicity TBM-EPB excavation; SLES; spoil material; ecotoxicity
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Patrolecco, L.; Pescatore, T.; Mariani, L.; Rolando, L.; Grenni, P.; Finizio, A.; Spataro, F.; Rauseo, J.; Ademollo, N.; Muzzini, V.G.; Donati, E.; Lacchetti, I.; Padulosi, S.; Barra Caracciolo, A. Environmental Fate and Effects of Foaming Agents Containing Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulphate in Soil Debris from Mechanized Tunneling. Water 2020, 12, 2074.

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