Journal of hazardous materials

Biodegradation of ethylene dibromide (1,2-dibromoethane [EDB]) in microcosms simulating in situ and biostimulated conditions.

PMID 22301079


Although 1,2-dibromoethane (EDB) is a common groundwater contaminant, there is the lack of knowledge surrounding EDB biodegradation, especially under aerobic conditions. We have performed an extensive microcosm study to investigate the biodegradation of EDB under simulated in situ and biostimulated conditions. The materials for soil microcosms were collected from an EDB-contaminated aquifer at the Massachusetts Military Reservation in Cape Cod, MA. This EDB plume has persisted for nearly 40 years in both aerobic and anaerobic EDB zones of the aquifer. Microcosms were constructed under environmentally relevant conditions (field EDB and DO concentrations; incubated at 12°C). The results showed that natural attenuation occurred under anaerobic conditions but not under aerobic conditions, explaining why aerobic EDB contamination is so persistent. EDB degradation rates were greater under biostimulated conditions for both the aerobic and anaerobic microcosms. Particularly for aerobic biostimulation, methane-amended microcosms degraded EDB, on average, at a first order rate eight times faster than unamended microcosms. The best performing replicate achieved an EDB degradation rate of 7.0 yr(-1) (half-life (t(1/2))=0.10 yr). Residual methane concentrations and the emergence of methanotrophic bacteria, measured by culture independent bacterial analysis, provided strong indications that EDB degradation in aerobic methane-amended microcosms occurred via cometabolic degradation. These results indicate the potential for enhanced natural attenuation of EDB and that methane could be considered co-substrate for EDB bioremediation for the EDB-contaminated groundwater in aerobic zone.