Fate and effects of amphoteric surfactants in the aquatic environment.Environ Int. 2008 Oct; 34(7):1001-5.EI
Amphoteric surfactants form part of specialty surfactants available for formulators to improve or design new formulations in response to environmental, toxicity, safety and performance demands. Nevertheless, limited information on the ecological properties of amphoterics is available. In the present work, the aerobic and anaerobic biodegradability and the aquatic toxicity of different types of amphoteric surfactants (three alkyl betaines, one alkylamido betaine and three alkyl imidazoline derivatives) were studied. The amphoteric surfactants tested were readily biodegradable under aerobic conditions (CO2 headspace test) and alkylamido betaines and alkyl imidazoline derivatives were also easily biodegradable under anaerobic conditions (test based on the ECETOC method). Toxicity to Photobacterium phosphoreum and Daphnia magna increased with the fatty chain length of the surfactant. The EC50 toxicity values of the amphoterics tested were higher than 5 mg/L, and alkyl imidazoline derivatives, with EC50 values from 20 to > 200 mg/L, showed the lowest aquatic toxicity.