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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 1992 Feb;36(5):689-96.

Adsorption of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) by soil particles: influence on biodegradability and biotoxicity.

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Ruhrkohle Oel und Gas GmbH, Bottrop, Federal Republic of Germany.


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) biodegradation was investigated in contaminated soils from two different industrial sites under simulated land treatment conditions. Soil samples from a former impregnation plant (soil A) showed high degradation rates of PAHs by the autochthonous microorganisms, whereas PAHs in material of a closed-down coking plant (soil B) were not degraded even after inoculation with bacteria known to effectively degrade PAHs. As rapid PAH biodegradation in soil B was observed after PAHs were extracted and restored into the extracted soil material, the kind of PAH binding in soil B appears to completely prevent biodegradation. Sorption of PAHs onto extracted material of soil B follows a two-phase process (fast and slow); the latter is discussed in terms of migration of PAHs into soil organic matter, representing less accessible sites within the soil matrix. Such sorbed PAHs are suggested to be non-bioavailable and thus non-biodegradable. By eluting soil B with water, no biotoxicity, assayed as inhibition of bioluminescence, was detected in the aqueous phase. When treating soil A analogously, a distinct toxicity was observed, which was reduced relative to the amount of activated carbon added to the soil material. The data suggest that sorption of organic pollutants onto soil organic matter significantly affects biodegradability as well as biotoxicity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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