Humic Acid Toxicity in Biologically Treated Soil Contaminated with Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Pentachlorophenol

  • J. K. C. Nieman
  • R. C. Sims
  • D. L. Sorensen
  • J. E. McLean


Contaminated soil from a land treatment unit at the Libby Groundwater Superfund Site in Libby, MT, was amended with 14C pyrene and incubated for 396 days to promote biodegradation and the formation of soil-associated bound residues. Humic and fulvic acids were extracted from the treated soil microcosms and analyzed for the presence of pyrene residues. Biologic activity promoted 14C association with the fulvic acid fraction, but humic acid–associated 14C did not increase with biologic activity. The Aboatox flash toxicity assay was used to assess the toxicity of humic and fulvic acid fractions. The fulvic acid gave no toxic response, but the humic acid showed significant toxicity. The observed toxicity was likely associated with pentachlorophenol, a known contaminant of the soil that was removed by solvent extraction of the humic acid and that correlated well with toxicity reduction.


Pyrene Humic Acid Fulvic Acid Fulvic Acid Fraction Humic Acid Fraction 
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Support for this research was provided by the Hartsman Environmental Research Center and INRA.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. K. C. Nieman
    • 1
  • R. C. Sims
    • 2
  • D. L. Sorensen
    • 1
  • J. E. McLean
    • 1
  1. 1.Utah Water Research Laboratory Utah State UniversityLoganUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological and Irrigation EngineeringUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

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