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Environ Sci Technol. 2007 May 15;41(10):3559-65.

Importance of structural makeup of biopolymers for organic contaminant sorption.

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  • 1Department of Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USA.


Sorption of pyrene, phenanthrene, naphthalene, and 1-naphthol by original (lignin, chitin, and cellulose) and coated biopolymers was examined. Organic carbon normalized distribution coefficients (Koc) of all compounds by the original biopolymers followed the order lignin > chitin > cellulose, in line with the order of their hydrophobicity. Hydrophobicity of structurally similar organic compounds is the main factor determining their ability to occupy sorption sites in biopolymers. Specific interactions (e.g., H-bonding) between 1-naphthol and chitin or cellulose increased its ability to occupy sorption sites. Lignin coating resulted in an increased Koc for phenanthrene (13.6 times for chitin and 6.9 times for cellulose) and 1-naphthol (6.0 times for chitin and 3.7 times for cellulose) relative to the acetone-treated chitin and cellulose. Also, these coated biopolymers had increased isotherm nonlinearity, due to the newly formed condensed domains. An increase in phenanthrene and 1-naphthol sorption by lignin-coated biopolymers as compared to chitin and cellulose was contributed by the newly created high-energy sites in condensed domains and coated lignin. Results of this study highlight the importance of the structural makeup of biopolymers in controlling the sorption of hydrophobic organic compounds.

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