A Contaminant Trap as a Tool for Isolating and Measuring the Desorption Resistant Fraction of Soil Pollutants

Philipp Mayer, Jannik L. Olsen, Varvara Gouliarmou, Marion Hasinger, Romana Kendler, Andreas P. Loibner

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Bioremediation of contaminated soils often leaves a desorption-resistant pollutant fraction behind in the soil, which in the present study was isolated with a combination of diffusive carrier and infinite diffusive sink. Such a diffusive sink was made by casting a composite of silicone and activated carbon into the bottom of a large glass. Field-contaminated soil samples were then suspended in a cyclodextrin solution and incubated in such glasses for the continuous trapping of PAH molecules during their release from the soil matrix. The PAH concentrations remaining in the soil were determined by exhaustive extraction and compared with a biodegradation experiment. The concentration decline in the first soil was faster in the contaminant trap than in the biodegradation experiment, but the halting of the biodegradation process before reaching the legal threshold level was well indicated by the contaminant trap. The PAH concentrations in the second soil hardly decreased in the traps at all, in good agreement with the biodegradation experiment. The PAHs in this soil appeared to be "stuck" by strong sorption. The contaminant trap proved to be a practical approach to the isolation and quantification of the desorption-resistant PAH fraction.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)2932-2937
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

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