PMID: 6265Jan 1, 1975

Photochemical and biological degradation of water-soluble FWAs

Environmental Quality and Safety. Supplement
L Guglielmetti


A study was made of the photochemical and biological degradation of two water-soluble fluorescent whitening agents (FWAs): the disodium 4,4'-bis(2-sulfostyryl)-biphenyl (1) and the disodium 4,4-bis ([4-anilino-6-(N-methyl-N-2-hydroxyethyl)amino 1,3,5-triazin-2-yl]amino)stilbene-2,2'-disulfonate (2). Each represents an important class of detergent fluorescent whitening agents. The photochemical degradation of (1) was studied by irradiating diluted aqueous solutions of this compound with a low intensity high pressure mercury vapor lamp. From the intermediate, as well as the ultimate photodegradation products isolated, it can be infered that photodegradation of (1) followed the proposed scheme. The biologica degradation of (1) and (2) by activated sludge under aerobic conditions was studied using equipment similar to that proposed by the OECD for determining the biodegradation of anionic synthetic surface active agents. Under the conditons applied, both FWAs were slowly biodegraded, within 30 days, whereas the photodegradation products of (1) were completely biodegraded within 14 days.

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