Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp 1574–1584 | Cite as

Remediation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contaminated soil through composting with fresh organic wastes

  • Yuan Zhang
  • Yong-Guan Zhu
  • Sabine Houot
  • Min Qiao
  • Naoise Nunan
  • Patricia Garnier
Research Article



Composting may enhance bioremediation of PAH-contaminated soils by providing organic substrates that stimulate the growth of potential microbial degraders. However, the influence of added organic matter (OM) together with the microbial activities on the dissipation of PAHs has not yet been fully assessed.

Materials and methods

An in-vessel composting-bioremediation experiment of a contaminated soil amended with fresh wastes was carried out. Four different experimental conditions were tested in triplicate during 60 days using laboratory-scale reactors: treatment S (100% soil), W (100% wastes), SW (soil/waste mixture), and SWB (soil/waste mixture with inoculation of degrading microorganisms).

Results and discussion

A dry mass loss of 35 ± 5% was observed in treatments with organic wastes during composting in all the treatments except treatment S. The dissipation of the 16 USEPA-listed PAHs was largely enhanced from no significant change to 50.5 ± 14.8% (for SW)/63.7 ± 10.0% (for SWB). More obvious dissipation was observed when fresh wastes were added at the beginning of composting to the contaminated soil, without significant difference between the inoculated and non-inoculated treatments. Phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) profiling showed that fungi and G-bacteria dominated at the beginning of experiment and were probably involved in PAH dissipation. Subsequently, greater relative abundances of G + bacteria were observed as PAH dissipation slowed down.


The results suggest that improving the composting process with optimal organic compositions may be a feasible remediation strategy in PAH-contaminated soils through stimulation of active microbial populations.


Composting Contaminated soil PAHs Bioremediation Microbial communities PLFAs 



We are grateful to Egide, the French ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Academy of Sciences for providing financial support for this study through the programs PHC-PFCC and kzcx1-yw-06-03, respectively. We thank Nathalie Bernet and Valerie Dumeny for supplying the PAH measurements in contaminated soil and Muriel Jolly for her assistance in the organic matter analysis (Van Soest).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yuan Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yong-Guan Zhu
    • 1
  • Sabine Houot
    • 2
  • Min Qiao
    • 4
  • Naoise Nunan
    • 3
  • Patricia Garnier
    • 2
  1. 1.Chinese Academy of SciencesInstitute of Urban EnvironmentXiamenPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.INRA-AgroParisTechUMR 1091 Environnement et Grandes CulturesThiverval-GrignonFrance
  3. 3.CNRSUMR7618—Biogéochimie et Ecologie des Milieux ContinentauxThiverval-GrignonFrance
  4. 4.Chinese Academy of SciencesResearch Center for Eco-Environment SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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