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Environ Geochem Health. 2019 Jun 8. doi: 10.1007/s10653-019-00342-2. [Epub ahead of print]

Benzene homologues contaminants in a former herbicide factory site: distribution, attenuation, risk, and remediation implication.

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Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China.
Institute of Process Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100190, China.
Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, 100101, China.
Energy and Environment Directorate, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, 99354, USA.
Yuhuan Environmental Technology Co., Ltd., Shijiazhuang, 050000, China.


Benzene homologues often used as organic raw materials or as detergents in chemical industry are prone to accidental release into the environment which can cause serious long-term soil pollutions. In a large former herbicide factory site, we investigated 43 locations for benzene homologues contaminations in soil, soil gas, and groundwater and studied the hydrogeological conditions. An inverse distance weighted interpolation method was employed to determine the pollutants three-dimensional spatial distribution in the soils. Results showed that benzene homologues residues were mainly originated from the herbicide production workshop and that the pollution had horizontally expanded at the deeper soil layer. Contaminants had already migrated 15 m downward from ground surface. Contaminant phase distribution study showed that NAPL was the primary phase (> 99%) for the pollutants accumulated in the unsaturated zone, while it had not migrated to groundwater. The primary mechanism for contaminant transport and attenuation included dissolution of "occluded" NAPL into pore water and pollutant volatilization into soil pore space. Risk assessment revealed that the pollutants brought unacceptable high carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks to public health. In order to convert this former chemical processing factory site into a residential area, a remediation to the polluted production workshop sites is urgently required.


Attenuation; Benzene homologues; Distribution; Health risk; NAPLs; Soil


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