Effect of aqueous concentration of humic acid on the sorption of polychlorinated biphenyls onto soil particle grain sizes

  • Gbadebo Clement Adeyinka
  • Brenda Moodley
Sediments, Sec 2 • Physical and Biogeochemical Processes • Research Article



The role of initial aqueous humic acid concentrations (dose), as well as secondary environmental conditions on the sorption of PCB congeners PCB 28, 52, 77, 101, 105, 138, 153, and 180 onto soil particle grain sizes, was investigated in this study.

Materials and methods

Scanning electron microscopy equipped with energy dispersive X-ray and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy were used for the internal morphology and qualitative elemental analysis, as well as identification of possible functional groups found in commercial HA. Batch adsorption experiments were used for sorption studies.

Results and discussion

The results showed that the sorption of PCBs onto soil decreased with an increase in the aqueous HA concentrations. The adsorption of the selected PCBs onto the soils was found to decrease with an increase in the solution pH of humic acid. Thermodynamic studies showed that the partition coefficient values increased with an increase in solution temperature. All the standard free energy were negative indicating the spontaneity and feasibility of the sorption process with positive and high enthalpy and entropy values of the system. The sorption was best fitted with the Freundlich isotherm with the intensity parameter 1/n found to be greater than 1.


The outcome of this study revealed that secondary pollution of river water may possibly be altered depending on variations in the environmental conditions such as pH and temperature. The presence of organic pollutants in alkaline soils having less organic matter content could increase the chances of leaching of organic pollutants causing groundwater contamination.


Humic acid Isotherms PCBs Soil particle sizes Sorption Thermodynamic studies 



The authors sincerely acknowledge the University of KwaZulu-Natal and School of Chemistry and Physics at UKZN for laboratory facilities.

Supplementary material

11368_2018_2147_MOESM1_ESM.docx (3.3 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 3.27 mb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Chemistry and Physics, College of Agriculture, Engineering and SciencesUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalDurbanSouth Africa

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