Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) have raised considerable attention due to their wide commercial applications and recent discovery of unknown persistent analogues in aqueous environment. In this work, the occurrence and distribution of alkyltrimethylammonium (ATMAC), benzylakyldimethylethylammonium (BAC) and dialkyldimethylammonium (DADMAC) homologues were investigated in fifty-two municipal sewage sludge samples. ATMAC C10 18, BAC C8 18 and paired DADMAC C8:8-C18:18 as well as emerging homologues such as ATMAC-20, 22 and mixed DADMAC-16:18 and 14:16 were present. Furthermore, paired DADMAC-20:20 and mixed DADMAC-14:18, 18:20 were identified for the first time by nontarget qualitative strategies. A triple quadruple mass spectrometer quantification method was also initially verified with the aid of laboratory synthesized standards for the analysis of the mixed DADMACs with no certificated commercial standards currently available. The total concentrations of ATMACs, BACs and DADMACs were in the range of 0.38 293, 0.09 191 and 0.64 344 g/g dry weight, respectively, and particularly, mixed DADMACs constituted 39 7% of total DADMAC concentrations. The concentrations and profiles of individual homologues further suggested different QAC applications and fate in China. Significant correlations were also found among the concentrations of various QAC homologues as well as wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) characteristics (total organic carbon contents and daily treatment volumes).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Chemistry
- Environmental Chemistry