Characterization of Predominant Reductants in an Anaerobic Leachate-Contaminated Aquifer by Nitroaromatic Probe Compounds

Kirsten Rügge, Thomas B. Hofstetter, Stefan B. Haderlein, Poul Løgstrup Bjerg, Søren Knudsen, Claudia Zraunig, Hans Mosbæk, Thomas Højlund Christensen

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    The biogeochemical processes controlling the reductive transformation of contaminants in an anaerobic aquifer were inferred from the relative reactivity patterns of redox-sensitive probe compounds. The fate of five nitroaromatic compounds (NACs) was monitored under different redox conditions in a landfill leachate plume of a sandy aquifer. Results of field experiments (continuous injection and in situ microcosms) were compared to the findings of laboratory batch and column experiments (using aquifer matrix and model systems for sulfate-and iron-reducing conditions). NACs were transformed within 2-70 days in the leachate plume as well as in microbially active and in microbially deactivated experiments. Generally, aromatic amines were the predominant reduction products, and these compounds were stable within the time frame and under the conditions of our experiments. Despite the presence of various potential reductants (e.g., H(2)S/HS(-), Fe(II)(aq), reduced organic matter, microorganisms), the patterns of relative reactivity of the probe compounds indicated that ferrous iron associated with iron(lll) (hydr)oxide surfaces was the dominant reductant throughout the anaerobic region of the plume. Our results suggest that Fe(ll) associated with ferric iron minerals is a highly reactive reductant in anaerobic aquifers, which may also determine the fate of other classes of reducible contaminants such as halogenated solvents, azo compounds, sulfoxides, chromate, or arsenate.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEnvironmental Science & Technology (Washington)
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)23-31
    Publication statusPublished - 1998

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