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Chemosphere. 2011 Feb;82(6):872-8. doi: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2010.10.072. Epub 2010 Dec 8.

Comparison of the effects of variable site temperatures and constant incubation temperatures on the biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in pilot-scale experiments with field-aged contaminated soils from a cold regions site.

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Department of Civil Engineering, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.


Temporal atmospheric temperature changes during summers at sub-Arctic sites often cause periodic fluctuations in shallow landfarm and surface soil temperatures. However, little information is available on the effect of site-relevant variations on biodegradation performance in cold climates. This study compares the rate and extents of biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons at variable site temperatures (1-10 °C) representative of summers at a sub-Arctic site reported previously with those obtained under a constant average temperature of 6 °C. The biodegradation was evaluated in pilot-scale landfarming experiments with field-aged petroleum-contaminated soils shipped from Resolution Island (61°30'N, 65°00'W), Nunavut, Canada. Under the variable site temperature conditions biodegradation rate constants of semi- (F2) and non-volatile (F3) hydrocarbon fractions were enhanced by over a factor of two during the 60-d experiment, compared to the constant temperature mode. The decrease in total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) under the variable site temperature mode was 55% compared to only 19% under the constant average temperature mode. The enhanced biodegradation is attributable to the non-linear acceleration of microbial activity between 4.7 and 10°C and faster growth of indigenous hydrocarbon-degrading microbial populations. The first-order biodegradation rate constants of 0.018, 0.024 and 0.016 d(-1) for TPH, F2 and F3 fractions at the variable site temperature were in agreement with those determined by an on-site experiment at the same site.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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