Terrestrial environment

Utilizing surfactants to control the sorption, desorption, and biodegradation of phenanthrene in soil-water system

Haiwei Jin , Wenjun Zhou , Lizhong Zhu


Received November 02, 2012,Revised January 24, 2013, Accepted , Available online July 10, 2013

Volume ,2013,Pages 1355-1361

An integrative technology including the surfactant enhanced sorption and subsequent desorption and biodegradation of phenanthrene in the soil-water system was introduced and tested. For slightly contaminated agricultural soils, cationic-nonionic mixed surfactantenhanced sorption of organic contaminants onto soils could reduce their transfer to plants, therefore safe-guarding agricultural production. After planting, residual surfactants combined with added nonionic surfactant could also promote the desorption and biodegradation of residual phenanthrene, thus providing a cost-effective pollution remediation technology. Our results showed that the cationic-nonionic mixed surfactants dodecylpyridinium bromide (DDPB) and Triton X-100 (TX100) significantly enhanced soil retention of phenanthrene. The maximum sorption coefficient Kd* of phenanthrene for contaminated soils treated by mixed surfactants was about 24.5 times that of soils without surfactant (Kd) and higher than the combined effects of DDPB and TX100 individually, which was about 16.7 and 1.5 times Kd, respectively. On the other hand, TX100 could effectively remove phenanthrene from contaminated soils treated by mixed surfactants, improving the bioavailability of organic pollutants. The desorption rates of phenanthrene from these treated soils were greater than 85% with TX100 concentration above 2000 mg/L and approached 100% with increasing TX100 concentration. The biodegradation rates of phenanthrene in the presence of surfactants reached over 95% in 30 days. The mixed surfactants promoted the biodegradation of phenanthrene to some extent in 10-22 days, and had no obvious impact on phenanthrene biodegradation at the end of the experiment. Results obtained from this study provide some insight for the production of safe agricultural products and a remediation scheme for soils slightly contaminated with organic pollutants.

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