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Environmental engineering science

Improving Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Biodegradation in Contaminated Soil Through Low-Level Surfactant Addition After Conventional Bioremediation.


PMID 27678476

Abstract

Efficacy of bioremediation for soil contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) may be limited by the fractions of soil-bound PAHs that are less accessible to PAH-degrading microorganisms. In previous test-tube-scale work, submicellar doses of nonionic surfactants were screened for their ability to enhance the desorption and biodegradation of residual PAHs in soil after conventional bioremediation in a laboratory-scale, slurry-phase bioreactor. Polyoxyethylene sorbitol hexaoleate (POESH) was the optimum surfactant for enhancing PAH removal, especially the high-molecular weight PAHs. This work extends that concept by treating the effluent from the slurry-phase bioreactor in a second-stage batch reactor, to which POESH was added, for an additional 7 or 12 days. Surfactant amendment removed substantial amounts of the PAHs and oxy-PAHs remaining after conventional slurry-phase bioremediation, including more than 80% of residual 4-ring PAHs. Surfactant-amended treatment decreased soil cytotoxicity, but often increased the genotoxicity of the soil as measured using the DT-40 chicken lymphocyte DNA damage response assay. Potential ecotoxicity, measured using a seed germination assay, was reduced by bioreactor treatment and was reduced further after second-stage treatment with POESH. Of bacteria previously implicated as potential PAH degraders under POESH-amended conditions in a prior study, members of the Terrimonas genus were associated with differences in high-molecular weight PAH removal in the current study. Research using submicellar doses of surfactant as a second-stage treatment step is limited and these findings can inform the design of bioremediation systems at field sites treating soil contaminated with PAHs and other hydrophobic contaminants that have low bioaccessibility.

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