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Environ Eng Sci. 2014 Apr 1;31(4):176-182.

Bioavailability of (Geno)toxic Contaminants in Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon-Contaminated Soil Before and After Biological Treatment.

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Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina , Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Department of Biological Sciences, North Carolina State University , Raleigh, North Carolina.


Contaminated soil from a former manufactured-gas plant site was treated in a laboratory-scale bioreactor. Desorbability and biodegradability of 14 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and 4 oxygenated PAHs (oxy-PAHs) were investigated throughout a treatment cycle. Desorbability was determined using a mixed-function sorbent (Oasis® HLB) or a hydrophobic sorbent (Tenax®) in dialysis tubing suspended in the soil slurry. Toxicity and genotoxicity of the whole soil and the desorbable fractions were determined by DNA damage response analysis with the chicken DT40 B-lymphocyte isogenic cell line and its DNA repair-deficient mutant Rad54-/-. Biological treatment significantly removed both PAHs and oxy-PAHs, and their desorbability decreased throughout the bioreactor treatment cycle. Collectively, oxy-PAHs were more desorbable and biodegradable than the corresponding PAHs; for example, the oxy-PAH present at the highest concentration, 9,10-anthraquinone, was more desorbable and biodegradable than anthracene. For both PAHs and oxy-PAHs, the percentage removed in the bioreactor significantly exceeded the percentage desorbed from untreated soil, indicating that desorption did not control the extent of biodegradation. Consistent with previous results on the same soil, genotoxicity of the whole soil slightly increased after biological treatment. However, both toxicity and genotoxicity of the desorbable constituents in the soil decreased after treatment, suggesting that any genotoxic constituents that may have formed during treatment were primarily associated with less accessible domains in the soil.


MGP; bioavailability; bioremediation; genotoxicity; quinones; soil

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