Modeling experimental findings on sorption and biodegradation of PAHs

Arno Rein, K. E. C. Smith, U. G. Karlson, P. Mayer, Stefan Trapp

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Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the environment are to a major degree bound to organic matter or soot particles. It is disputed whether and to which extent the adsorbed fraction of PAH in soil and sediment can be attacked by microbial enzymes, or whether dissolution in aqueous media is required. In that case, the degradation depends critically on the bioavailability, or better the bioaccessibility of PAH for microbes. The increasing non-accessibility of PAH with time (‘aging’) may explain the formation of a residual fraction, which has been observed in remediation projects. A unified model for sorption, sequestration and degradation of neutral organic compounds in soils and sediments has been developed and tested (see also Trapp et al. session J01). Adsorption was considered as a two-phase process, with rapid and slow adsorption rates. Calculated or experimental sorption rates and kinetic data for growth and metabolism of PAH-degrading bacteria were obtained as input parameters. The model simulations were compared to existing solutions (such as the Best equation) and to experimental results. With this new model approach, a range of experimental observations available in literature could be simulated, encompassing various soil types and PAHs, and different bacterial strains. Own experiments are currently performed on phenantrene, fluoranthene and other PAHs and on ad/desorption as well as on biodegradation. The results shall be used to calibrate and verify the new model approach. The model was also used to simulate typical scenarios of adsorption (aging) and microbial degradation, in order to identify sensitive parameters and processes. Furthermore, the impact of dissolved organic matter and various types of amendments was studied, which potentially enhance diffusive mass transfer and biodegradation performance. The final goal is to optimize remediation options.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSETAC Europe 21st Annual Meeting Abstract Book
Number of pages230
Publication date2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventSETAC Europe 21st Annual Meeting: Ecosystem Protection in a Sustainable World: A Challenge for Science and Regulation - Milano Convention Centre, Milano, Italy
Duration: 15 May 201119 May 2011
Conference number: 21


ConferenceSETAC Europe 21st Annual Meeting
LocationMilano Convention Centre
Internet address

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