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Hydrocarbon Degradation and Lead Solubility in a Soil Polluted with Lead and Used Motor Oil Treated by Composting and Phytoremediation


Used lubricant oils and metals can be common soil pollutants in abandoned sites. When soil is contaminated with various hazardous wastes, the efficiency of biological treatments could be affected. The purpose of this work was to investigate the effect of combining phytoremediation and composting on the efficiency of hydrocarbon degradation and lead solubility in a soil contaminated with 31,823 mg/kg of total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) from used motor oil and 8260 mg/kg of lead. Mexican cactus (Opuntia ficus indica) and yard trimmings were added in the composting process, and lucerne (Medicago sativa) was used in the phytoremediation process. After a 9 week composting process, only 13% of the initial TPH concentration was removed. The following 20 week phytoremediation process removed 48% of TPH. The highest TPH degradation percentage (66%), was observed in the experiment with phytoremediation only. This work demonstrates sustainable technologies, such as biological treatments, represent low-cost options for remediation; however, they are not frequently used because they require long periods of time for success.

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L.F. Escobar-Alvarado acknowledges the support of CONACYT (Nacional Council for Science and Technology, Mexico) for the Graduate Scholarship granted.

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Correspondence to M. N. Rojas-Valencia.

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Escobar-Alvarado, L.F., Vaca-Mier, M., López, R. et al. Hydrocarbon Degradation and Lead Solubility in a Soil Polluted with Lead and Used Motor Oil Treated by Composting and Phytoremediation. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 100, 280–285 (2018).

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  • Contamination
  • Medicago sativa
  • Opuntia ficus indica
  • Remediation
  • Total petroleum hydrocarbon