Biodegradation of chlorinated solvents in a water unsaturated topsoil

T. Borch, P. Ambus, F. Laturnus, B. Svensmark, C. Grøn

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    In order to investigate topsoils as potential sinks for chlorinated solvents from the atmosphere, the degradation of trichloromethane (CHCl3), 1,1,1-trichloroethane (CH3CCl3), tetrachloromethane (CCl4), trichloroethene (C2HCl3) and tetrachloroethene (C2Cl4) was studied in anoxic laboratory experiments designed to simulate denitrifying conditions in water unsanstrated by measuring the release of N-15 in N-2 to the headspace from added N-15 labeled nitrate. The degradation of chlorinated aliphatic compounds was followed by measuring their concentrations in the headspace above the soil.

    The headspace concentrations of all the chlorinated solvents except CH3CCl3 were significantly (P less than or equal to 0.05) lower after 41 days in biologically active batches as compared to sterile batches. For the compounds with significantly decreasing headspace concentrations, the decline was the least for CHCl3 within the 41 days of incubation. The headspace concentrations of trichloro- and tetrachloroethene decreased more than 50% during the first 20 days with no considerable indication of abiotic transformation. While slow abiotic removal was observed, tetrachloromethane was completely biotransformed after 16 days. Based on the results in this study, we conclude that anaerobic topsoils are potential sinks for these contaminants, and that a natural attenuation potential exists, even in water unsaturated topsoils. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number2
    Pages (from-to)143-152
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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