Surfactants are substances that are adsorbed onto the surface/interface of a system and alter the surface/interfacial energy of the same. They generally consist of two parts, hydrophobic head and hydrophilic tail. Surfactants can be classified on the basis of effect, origin, structure and applications and can be further sub classified on the basis of chemical structure as anionic, cationic, non-ionic and zwitterionic surfactants .
Anionic surfactants have negatively charged head group and positively charged tail group. Anionic surfactants account for about 55% of the world production. Some common examples are linear alkyl benzene sulphonates (LAS), soaps, lauryl sulfate etc. LAS is the most commonly used anionic surfactant because it gets completely ionized, is water soluble, is insoluble in organic solvents and its solubility is not affected by pH. Cationic surfactants have positively charged head group and negatively charged tail group. Some common examples of cationic surfactants are quaternary ammonium compounds (QAC), derivatives of pyridine and imidazolines etc. Among these, QACs are most commonly used because the charge of the molecule…show more content… are some of the unique properties that surfactants possess due to which, they find a wide range of applications in various fields such as paints, detergents, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, polymer production, textiles and petrochemical industries. The extensive use of surfactants that spans across a multitude of industries and their subsequent release in the environment has made it imperative to ascertain the effects of these widely used agents on human health and ecological systems. Unfortunately, almost all aspects of the environment like water bodies, soil, microorganisms, aquatic living systems etc. come into contact with the discharged surface active agents and get adversely