Surfactants-based remediation as an effective approach for removal of environmental pollutants—A review

Tahir Rasheed, Sameera Shafi, Muhammad Bilal, Tariq Hussain, Farooq Sher, Komal Rizwan

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    137 Citations (Scopus)
    347 Downloads (Pure)


    Deterioration of environmental quality and equilibrium by rampant industrial expansion, accelerated urbanization and unchecked population growth has become a high-priority concern. The release of an alarming number of toxic polluting agents such as volatile organic compounds, dyes, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, industrial wastes, and personal care products due to natural or anthropogenic activities pose direct adverse effects on human health and living entities. This issue is inescapably increased because of the lack of efficient technologies for the proper disposal, management, and recycling of waste. It is of paramount importance to track alternative solutions to address these pollution problems for an eco-sustainable environment. Conventional remediation techniques are either inefficient, cumbersome or restricted due to certain techno-economic limitations. Environmental compatibility and high pollutant-removal efficacy make surfactants valuable for removal of organic pollutants and toxic heavy metal ions from different mediums. In this review, we present recent and up-to-date information on micelles/surfactants-assisted abatement of a vast number of toxic agents of emerging concern from water/wastewater including volatile organic compounds, personal care products, pharmaceutically active residues, toxic metals, dye pollutants, pesticides, and petroleum hydrocarbons. Based on the literature survey, it can be concluded that micelles-assisted water and soil treatment technology can have a better future on large-scale decontamination of wastewater. Though bio-surfactants are environmentally friendlier matrices and have successfully been employed for environmental decontamination; their large-scale applicability is challenging owing to high costs. Additional research efforts on the development and employment of novel bio-surfactants might render wastewater treatment technology greener, smarter and economical.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number113960
    JournalJournal of Molecular Liquids
    Early online date8 Aug 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2020


    • Biosurfactants
    • Environmental impact
    • Micelles
    • Pesticides
    • Petroleum hydrocarbons
    • Pollutants
    • Removal strategies
    • Volatile organic compounds

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
    • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
    • Condensed Matter Physics
    • Spectroscopy
    • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
    • Materials Chemistry


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