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Environ Pollut. 1993;81(3):229-49.

Bioremediation of soil contaminated with polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs): a review.

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Institute of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YQ, UK.


Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) constitute a group of priority pollutants which are present at high concentrations in the soils of many industrially contaminated sites. Criteria established for the removal or treatment or both of soils contaminated with PAHs vary widely within and between nations. The bioremediation of contaminated soils with in-situ, on-site, and bioreactor techniques is reviewed, together with the factors affecting PAH degradation. Current in-situ remediation techniques are considered ineffective for the removal of most PAHs from contaminated soil. On-site 'landforming' methods have been used successfully (and within a reasonable period of time) to degrade only those PAHs with three or fewer aromatic rings. Bioreactors have proved most effective for soil remediation, since conditions for enhanced degradation can be achieved most readily. However, bioreactors are still at the development stage, and further research is required to optimise their efficiency and economy for routine use. Degradation of the more recalcitrant high-molecular-weight PAHs is contaminated soil has not been particularly successful to date. Further research needs are identified to help develop bioremediation into a most cost-effective technology. The importance of full site assessments and treatability studies for successful application in the field is emphasised.


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