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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2013 Mar;20(3):1737-45. doi: 10.1007/s11356-012-1047-1. Epub 2012 Jul 1.

Layer of organic pine forest soil on top of chlorophenol-contaminated mineral soil enhances contaminant degradation.

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Department of Environmental Sciences, Section of Environmental Ecology, University of Helsinki, Niemenkatu 73, 15140, Lahti, Finland.


Chlorophenols, like many other synthetic compounds, are persistent problem in industrial areas. These compounds are easily degraded in certain natural environments where the top soil is organic. Some studies suggest that mineral soil contaminated with organic compounds is rapidly remediated if it is mixed with organic soil. We hypothesized that organic soil with a high degradation capacity even on top of the contaminated mineral soil enhances degradation of recalcitrant chlorophenols in the mineral soil below. We first compared chlorophenol degradation in different soils by spiking pristine and pentachlorophenol-contaminated soils with 2,4,6-trichlorophenol in 10-L buckets. In other experiments, we covered contaminated mineral soil with organic pine forest soil. We also monitored in situ degradation on an old sawmill site where mineral soil was either left intact or covered with organic pine forest soil. 2,4,6-Trichlorophenol was rapidly degraded in organic pine forest soil, but the degradation was slower in other soils. If a thin layer of the pine forest humus was added on top of mineral sawmill soil, the original chlorophenol concentrations (high, ca. 70 μg g(-1), or moderate, ca. 20 μg g(-1)) in sawmill soil decreased by >40 % in 24 days. No degradation was noticed if the mineral soil was kept bare or if the covering humus soil layer was sterilized beforehand. Our results suggest that covering mineral soil with an organic soil layer is an efficient way to remediate recalcitrant chlorophenol contamination in mineral soils. The results of the field experiment are promising.

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