Journal of Industrial Microbiology

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 226–232

Volatilization of selenium from a dewatered seleniferous sediment: A field study

  • W. T. FrankenbergerJr
  • Ulrich Karlson

DOI: 10.1007/BF01569932

Cite this article as:
Frankenberger, W.T. & Karlson, U. Journal of Industrial Microbiology (1995) 14: 226. doi:10.1007/BF01569932


One of the major concerns in central California (San Joaquin Valley) is the level of selenium (Se) in evaporation ponds containing agricultural drainage water. The objective of this work was to determine if volatilization of Se could be used as a bioremediation program to detoxify a saline seleniferous sediment of a dewatered evaporation pond. The dewatered sediment was rototilled, divided into subplots, and amended with various organic materials including citrus (orange) peel, cattle manure, barley straw and grape pomance. Some of the subplots were fertilized with nitrogen [(NH4)2SO4] and zinc (ZnSO4). Selenium volatilization was monitored in the field with a flux chamber system utilizing alkaline peroxide to trap the gas. Overall, the greatest emission of gaseous Se was recorded in the summer months and the lowest emission during the winter months. The background emission of volatile Se averaged 3.0 μg Se h−1 m−2. The most effective organic amendment was cattle manure with an avg. Se emission of 54 μg Se h−1 m−2. Composite soil samples from each subplot (upper 15 cm) were analyzed for total Se on a monthly interval during the course of this field study. After 22 months, the application of water plus tillage alone removed 32.2% of the Se content while the cattle manure treatment removed 57.8%. Among the parameters which enhanced volatilization of Se were an available C source, aeration, moisture, and high temperatures. This field study indicates promising results in detoxifying seleniferous sediments via microbial volatilization once environmental conditions have been optimized.

Key words

Dimethylselenide Fungi Microbial transformations of trace elements Selenium Volatilization 

Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. T. FrankenbergerJr
    • 1
  • Ulrich Karlson
    • 2
  1. 1.Dept of Soil and Environmental SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marine Ecology and MicrobiologyNational Environmental Research InstituteRoskildeDenmark

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