Journal of hazardous materials

PAHs soil decontamination in two steps: desorption and electrochemical treatment.

PMID 19121891


The presence of carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soils poses a potential threat to human health if exposure levels are too high. Nevertheless, the removal of these contaminants presents a challenge to scientists and engineers. The high hydrophobic nature of PAHs enables their strong sorption onto soil or sediments. Thus, the use of surfactants could favour the release of sorbed hydrophobic organic compounds from contaminated soils. In this work, five surfactants, namely Brij 35, Tergitol NP10, Tween 20, Tween 80 and Tyloxapol, are evaluated on the desorption of PAHs [benzanthracene (BzA), fluoranthene (FLU), and pyrene (PYR), single and in mixture] from a model sample such as kaolin. In all cases, the best results were obtained when Tween 80 was employed. In order to obtain the global decontamination of PAHs, their electrochemical degradation is investigated. It is concluded that the order of increasing degradation for single compounds is BzA>FLU>PYR when they are subject to the same electrochemical treatment. In addition, there is a direct relationship between the ionization potential and the electrochemical degradation of PAH.