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Environ Technol. 2012 Feb-Mar;33(4-6):717-24.

Laboratory-scale evaluation of a combined soil amendment for the enhanced biodegradation of propylene glycol-based aircraft de-icing fluids.

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Department of Soil Biology and Biochemistry, Research Institute for Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.


A combined soil amendment was tested in microcosm experiments with an aim to enhance the aerobic biodegradation of propylene glycol (PG)-based aircraft de-icing fluids during and following the infiltration of contaminated snowmelt. A key objective under field conditions is to increase degradation of organic pollutants in the surface soil where higher microbial activity and plant rhizosphere effects may contribute to a more efficient biodegradation of PG, compared to subsoil ground layers, where electron acceptors and nutrients are often depleted. Microcosm experiments were set up in Petri dishes using 50 g of soil mixed with appropriate additives. The samples contained an initial de-icing fluid concentration of 10,000 mg/kg soil. A combined amendment using calcium peroxide, activated carbon and 1 x Hoagland solution resulted in significantly higher degradation rates for PG both at 4 and 22 degrees C. Most probable numbers of bacteria capable of utilizing 10,000 mg/kg de-icing fluid as a sole carbon source were about two orders of magnitude higher in the amended soil samples compared to unamended controls at both temperatures. The elevated numbers of such bacteria in surface soil may be a source of cells transported to the subsoil by snowmelt infiltration. The near-surface application of amendments tested here may enhance the growth of plants and plant roots in the contaminated area, as well as microbes to be found at greater depth, and hence increase the degradation of a contaminant plume present in the ground.

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