Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, 229:305 | Cite as

Surfactants in the Sea Surface Microlayer, Underlying Water and Atmospheric Particles of Tropical Coastal Ecosystems

  • Royston Uning
  • Mohd Talib LatifEmail author
  • Kai Ling Yu
  • Sze Yin Cheng
  • Fatimah Ahamad
  • Md Firoz Khan
  • Edmand Andrew Bedurus
  • Suhaimi Suratman


This study aims to determine the composition of surfactants in the sea surface microlayer (SML), underlying water (ULW) and atmospheric particles (AP). Surfactants were determined colorimetrically as methylene blue active substances (MBAS) and disulphine blue active substances (DBAS) for anionic and cationic surfactants, respectively. The concentration of dissolved inorganic nutrients (DIN) in ULW was determined so as to indicate the influence of ULW to the surfactants in SML. The results showed that the concentration of MBAS and DBAS in SML at both stations ranged between 0.05 and 0.31 μmol L−1, and between 0.19 and 0.59 μmol L−1, respectively. Surfactants in ULW influence the concentration of surfactants in SML (r = 0.65, p < 0.01, n = 36). The station influenced by anthropogenic sources showed a higher concentration of surfactants in ULW, SML and AP. This finding suggests fine mode atmospheric particles (FMAP) are the main carrier for anionic surfactants as MBAS in the coastal ecosystem. Anionic surfactants as MBAS were found as better indicator of anthropogenic sources than cationic ones.


Anionic Cationic Colorimetric Surface microlayer Particles Tropical condition 



We would like to thank Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia for their logistical support during sampling. Special thanks to K. Alexander who helped proofread this manuscript.

Funding Information

This work was supported by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) under E-Science Fund 04-01-02-SF1259 research grant and the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Research University Grant (AP-2015-010).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences, Faculty of Science and TechnologyUniversiti Kebangsaan MalaysiaBangiMalaysia
  2. 2.Centre for Tropical Climate Change System (IKLIM), Institute of Climate ChangeUniversiti Kebangsaan MalaysiaBangiMalaysia
  3. 3.Institute of Oceanography and EnvironmentUniversiti Malaysia TerengganuKuala TerengganuMalaysia

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