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J Environ Qual. 2007 Aug 31;36(5):1444-51. Print 2007 Sep-Oct.

Integrating biodegradation and electroosmosis for the enhanced removal of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons from creosote-polluted soils.

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  • 1Instituto de Recursos Naturales y Agrobiolog√≠a, C.S.I.C., Apartado 1052, E-41080-Seville, Spain.


This paper presents a hybrid technology of soil remediation based on the integration of biodegradation and electroosmosis. We employed soils with different texture (clay soil and loamy sand) containing a mixture of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) present in creosote, and inoculation with a representative soil bacterium able to degrade fluorene, phenanthrene, fluoranthene, pyrene, anthracene, and benzo[a]pyrene. Two different modes of treatment were prospected: (i) inducing in soil the simultaneous occurrence of biodegradation and electroosmosis in the presence of a biodegradable surfactant, and (ii) treating the soils sequentially with electrokinetics and bioremediation. Losses of PAH due to simultaneous biodegradation and electroosmosis (induced by a continuous electric field) were significantly higher than in control cells that contained the surfactant but no biological activity or no current. The method was especially successful with loamy sand. For example, benzo[a]pyrene decreased its concentration by 50% after 7 d, whereas 22 and 17% of the compound had disappeared as a result of electrokinetic flushing and bioremediation alone, respectively. The use of periodical changes in polarity and current pulses increased by 16% in the removal of total PAH and in up to 30% of specific compounds, including benzo[a]pyrene. With the aim of reaching lower residual levels through bioremediation, an electrokinetic pretreatment was also evaluated as a way to mobilize the less bioaccessible fraction of PAH. Residual concentrations of total biodegradable PAH, remaining after bioremediation in soil slurries, were twofold lower in electrokinetically pretreated soils than in untreated soils. The results indicate that biodegradation and electroosmosis can be successfully integrated to promote the removal of PAH from soil.

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