A commercial blend of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEOs) was chosen as representative for non-ionic polyethoxylated surfactants to study the oxidative degradation of this class of surfactants in water using ozonation as well as electron beam irradiation with and without the addition of ozone as treatment processes. The electron beam irradiation processes applied represent so-called Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOPs); the combined ozone/electron beam irradiation is, moreover, the most powerful AOP which can be applied in aqueous systems. It was found that both ozonation and the two AOPs applied were able to decompose not only the NPEOs but also the polyethyleneglycoles (PEGs) formed as by-products from NPEO degradation to residual concentrations below the limit of detection. Moreover, the treatment processes were also used to study the oxidative degradation of nonylphenoxy acetic acid (NPEC) and of nonylphenol (NP) which are formed as by-products from biodegradation of NPEOs.

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