, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 167-175

Biodegradation of benzene, toluene and naphthalene in soil-water slurry microcosms

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Aerobic biodegradation of benzene, toluene andnaphthalene was studied in pre-equilibrated soil-waterslurry microcosms. The experiments were designed tosimulate biodegradation at waste sites where sorptionreaches equilibrium before biodegradation becomesimportant. Rates of biodegradation were reduced by thepresence of soil. For example, nearly completenaphthalene biodegradation (1.28 mg/L) by indigenoussoil bacteria occurred within 60 hours in aqueoussolution (soil-free) while it took two weeks todegrade the same amount in the presence of 0.47 kgsoil/L of water. The rate of biodegradation wasobserved to decrease with increasing organic compoundhydrophobicity, soil/water ratio, soil particle size,and soil organic carbon content. These resultsclearly indicate that the rate of biodegradation isaffected by both the extent and rate of sorption. Further analysis suggests that mass transfer couldcontrol the performance of in situ bioremediation forhighly hydrophobic organic contaminants which exhibita large extent of sorption and slow rate ofdesorption.