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Water Res. 2005 May;39(10):2105-13.

The sequestration of PCBs in Lake Hartwell sediment with activated carbon.

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School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK.


Recent laboratory studies with a marine sediment from a tidal mudflat in San Francisco Bay demonstrated that a low dose of activated carbon enhances the sequestration of PCBs and PAHs under well-mixed conditions. Here we compare activated carbon treatment for a freshwater sediment from a rural site, using PCB-contaminated sediment from Lake Hartwell, SC. An activated carbon dose of 2% of the dry sediment mass lowered total aqueous PCB concentrations by more than 95% after 1 month of treatment and more than 98% after 6 months. Aqueous PCB concentrations remained below detection limits following 18 months of sediment-carbon contact in slowly mixed systems. Uptake of PCBs into semipermeable membrane devices was reduced by 78%, 91% and 97% over 1, 6 and 18 months, respectively. These tests show that PCB sequestration with activated carbon improves with contact time and is not diminished by prolonged mixing with sediment. Desorption studies confirmed the sequestration, in which 74% of the total PCB mass could be desorbed from untreated Lake Hartwell sediment within 30 days as compared to only 7% after activated carbon treatment for 6 months. We compare these observations with marine sediment from San Francisco Bay and propose a conceptual model to rationalize how sediment properties relate to the reduction in aqueous PCB concentrations during activated carbon treatment.

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