Surfactants form part of a group of chemicals with a high overall environmental relevance, because
of their inherent properties combined with their large production volume. LAS like any other detergent
ingredient can be found in the environment due to its wide spread use in consumer products. Surfactants
consumed today in European detergents and cleaning products must comply with strict legal
obligations, including biodegradability. LAS fulfils this requirement and many technical
publications are available on this matter. Nevertheless, surfactants can be found in low concentrations
in the various environmental compartments, even after waste water treatment, due mainly to their inherent
physical chemical properties.
In order to assess the environmental impact of surfactants, it is necessary to know both their fate
as well as their effects on organisms representative of the various environmental compartments. Several
key characteristics are taken into account for these studies; i.e. Biodegradation, Aquatic
toxicity, Adsorption behaviour, Bioaccumulation, and others. The effects are usually studied on
organisms representative of the different trophic levels; microorganisms, microalgae, invertebrates and
vertebrates using official guidelines and internationally recognised testing protocols.