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Physicochemical characterization of coke-plant soil for the assessment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon availability and the feasibility of phytoremediation

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David Werner, Professor Richard Luthy

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Abstract

Coke oven site soil was characterized to assess the particle association and availability of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). We identified various carbonaceous materials including coal, coke, pitch, and tar decanter sludge. Most of the PAHs were associated with the polymeric matrix of tar sludge or hard pitch as discrete particles, coatings on soil mineral particles, or complex aggregates. The PAH availability from these particles was very low due to hindered diffusive release from solid tar or pitch with apparent diffusivities of 6 × 10-15 for phenanthrene, 3 × 10 -15 for pyrene, and 1 × 10-15 cm2/s for benzo[a]pyrene. Significant concentrations of PAHs were observed in the interior of solid tar aggregates with up to 40,000 mg/kg total PAHs. The release of PAHs from the interior of such particles requires diffusion over a substantial distance, and semipermeable membrane device tests confirmed a very limited availability of PAHs. These findings explain the results from three years of phytoremediation of the site soil, for which no significant changes in the total PAH concentrations were observed in the test plot samples. The observed low bioavailability of PAHs probably inhibited PAH phytoremediation, as diffusion-limited mass transfer would limit the release of PAHs to the aqueous phase. © 2005 SETAC.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Ahn S, Werner D, Luthy RG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

Year: 2005

Volume: 24

Issue: 9

Pages: 2185-2195

ISSN (print): 0730-7268

ISSN (electronic): 1552-8618

Publisher: Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1897/04-564R.1

DOI: 10.1897/04-564R.1

PubMed id: 16193745


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