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Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Jun 1;41(11):3952-8.

Strong sorption of phenanthrene by condensed organic matter in soils and sediments.

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  • 1State Key Laboratory of Organic Geochemistry, Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510640, China.


The nonhydrolyzable carbon (NHC) and black carbon (BC) in three contaminated soils and seven sediments from the Pearl River Delta and Estuary, China, were isolated upon treatments with an acid hydrolysis method and with a combustion method at 375 degrees C, respectively, and their sorption isotherms for phenanthrene (Phen) were established. It was found that NHC is chemically and structurally different from the biopolymer and humic substances and consists mainly of aliphatic and aromatic carbon using elemental analysis, 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (13C NMR), and Fourier transformed infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). All the sorption isotherms are nonlinear and are well fitted by the Freundlich model. The single-point organic carbon-normalized distribution coefficient (K(oc)) measured for the isolated NHC is 1.3-7.7 times higher than that for the bulk samples at the same aqueous concentration of Phen. The NHC fractions play a dominant role to the overall sorption in the bulk samples. The bulk soils and their NHC fractions have lower sorption capacity than the bulk sediments and their NHC fractions, relating to the different source of organic matter between soils and sediments. The Phen sorption capacity in the NHC samples is related significantlyto H/C ratios and aliphatic carbon, but negatively to aromatic carbon, demonstrating the important role of aliphatic carbon to the Phen sorption and the fate in the investigated soils and sediments.

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