Removal of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)-contaminated sediments by persulfate oxidation and determination of degradation product cytotoxicity based on HepG2 and ZF4 cell lines

  • Cheng-Di Dong
  • Mei-Ling Tsai
  • Tsing-Hai Wang
  • Jih-Hsing Chang
  • Chiu-Wen ChenEmail author
  • Chang-Mao HungEmail author
Water Environmental Pollution and State of the Art Treatment Technologies


This study evaluated the use of magnetite (Fe3O4), carbon black (CB), and Fe3O4-CB composites activated by persulfate (PS) at circumneutral pH to oxidize polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in marine sediments. In addition, the in vitro cytotoxic activity and apoptotic response of the obtained degradation products were investigated. Chemical analyses showed that the total PAH concentration was 26,263 ng/g for sediment samples from an industrial port area. Highly toxic BaP was the main contributor to the TEQ in sediments. Source analyses demonstrated that the PAHs in the sediment were derived from coal combustion. In this study, we found that the PS oxidation processes effectively degrade PAHs at concentration levels of 1.7 × 10−5 M at pH 6.0. The 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay was employed to assess the cytotoxicity of the PAH degradation products before and after Fe3O4/PS, CB/PS, and Fe3O4-CB/PS oxidation treatment using a human hepatoma carcinoma cell line (HepG2) and a zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryonic cell line (ZF4). Each sample extract showed a marked dose-related response, with the cell viability reduced by 82% in the case of HepG2 and 58% in the case of ZF4 at 100 μg/mL after the Fe3O4-CB/PS process. The PAH degradation products had different effects on the cell morphologies of the two cell lines. The results suggested that the ZF4 cell model is more sensitive than HepG2 to the toxicity of the PAH samples.


Persulfate Magnetite Carbon black Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons Cytotoxicity HepG2 cells ZF4 cells MTT assay 


Funding information

This study is financially supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan, under contract nos. MOST 106-2221-E-992-302-MY3 and 106-2221-E-992-303-MY3.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Marine Environmental EngineeringNational Kaohsiung University of Science and TechnologyKaohsiung CityTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of Seafood ScienceNational Kaohsiung University of Science and TechnologyKaohsiung CityTaiwan
  3. 3.Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials ScienceYuan Ze UniversityZhongliTaiwan
  4. 4.Department of Environmental Engineering and ManagementChaoyang University of TechnologyTaichung CityTaiwan

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