Prediction of PAH biodegradation in field contaminated soils using a cyclodextrin extraction technique

Apostolos Papadopoulos, Graeme I. Paton, Brian J. Reid, Kirk T. Semple

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Biodegradation has been identified as a major loss process for organic contaminants in soils and, as a result, microbial strategies have been developed for the remediation of contaminated land. Prediction of the biodegradable fraction would be important for determining bioremediation end-points in the clean-up of contaminated land. The aim of this study was to investigate the ability of a cyclodextrin extraction to predict the extent to which polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) would be degraded microbiologically in field contaminated soils; further testing the robustness and reproducibility of this extraction in chemically complex systems. Dichloromethane and hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin (HPCD) extractable fractions were measured together with the PAH biodegradable fraction in each of the six field contaminated soils. The amounts of PAHs degraded by the catabolic activity of the indigenous microflora in each of the soils were correlated with HPCD-extractable PAH concentrations. The regressions showed that the amounts of lower molecular weight PAHs extracted by the HPCD were not significantly (P > 0.05) different to the amounts that were degraded. However, higher molecular weight PAHs that were extracted by HPCD did differ significantly (P < 0.05) from the amounts degraded. Although the HPCD extraction did overestimate the microbially degradable fraction of the higher molecular weight PAHs, overall the correlations between the HPCD extractable fraction and the microbially degradable fraction were very close, with mean values of the slope of line for the six soils equalling 1. This study further describes the robust and reproducible nature of the aqueous-based soil extraction technique reliably measuring the extent to which PAHs will be microbially degraded in soil.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-522
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Monitoring
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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