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J Environ Qual. 2003 Jul-Aug;32(4):1234-43.

Effect of nutrient amendments on indigenous hydrocarbon biodegradation in oil-contaminated beach sediments.

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  • 1Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, National University of Singapore, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260.


Nutrient amendment to oil-contaminated beach sediments is a critical factor for the enhancement of indigenous microbial activity and biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in the intertidal marine environment. In this study, we investigated the stimulatory effect of the slow-release fertilizers Osmocote (Os; Scotts, Marysville, OH) and Inipol EAP-22 (Ip; ATOFINA Chemicals, Philadelphia, PA) combined with inorganic nutrients on the bioremediation of oil-spiked beach sediments using an open irrigation system with artificial seawater over a 45-d period. Osmocote is comprised of a semipermeable membrane surrounding water-soluble inorganic N, P, and K. Inipol, which contains organic N and P, has been used for oil cleanup on beach substrate. Nutrient concentrations and microbial activity in sediments were monitored by analyzing sediment leachates and metabolic dehydrogenase activity of the microbial biomass, respectively. Loss of aliphatics (n-C12 to n-C33, pristane, and phytane) was significantly greater (total loss between 95 and 97%) in oil-spiked sediments treated with Os alone or in combination with other nutrient amendments, compared with an unamended oil-spiked control (26% loss) or sediments treated with the other nutrient amendments (28-65% loss). A combination of Os and soluble nutrients (SN) was favorable for the rapid metabolic stimulation of the indigenous microbial biomass, the sustained release of nutrients, and the enhanced biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in leached, oil-contaminated sediments.

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