, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp 307–328 | Cite as

The biogeochemistry of toluene in coastal seawater: radiotracer experiments in controlled ecosystems

  • Stuart G. Wakeham
  • Elizabeth A. Canuel
  • Peter H. Doering
  • John E. Hobbie
  • John V.K Helfrich
  • Gayle R.G Lough


The fate of toluene in coastal seawater was investigated in controlled ecosystems using14C- and3H-toluene as tracers. Under winter-like conditions, 80% of the toluene volatilized from the water column in 2 months. Microbial degradation was less important than volatilization and sorption onto particulate matter with resultant loss to the sediments was minor. During summer most of the toluene was degraded by microbes. Nearly 80% of the toluene was converted to CO2 within 1 week and the label remained in the water column as dissolved CO2. The experimental results were applied to estimate the removal rates and the residence time of toluene in adjacent Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. In winter volatilization would dominate the loss of toluene and a residence time of 6 d would be predicted. However, rapid biodegradation in summer would result in a residence time of < 1 d.

Key words

toluene biogeochemistry volatilization degradation mesocosm experiments 


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Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff/Dr W. Junk Publishers 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stuart G. Wakeham
    • 1
  • Elizabeth A. Canuel
    • 1
  • Peter H. Doering
    • 2
  • John E. Hobbie
    • 3
  • John V.K Helfrich
    • 3
  • Gayle R.G Lough
    • 4
  1. 1.Chemistry DepartmentWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA
  2. 2.Marine Ecosystems Research Laboratory (MERL)University of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  3. 3.Ecosystems CenterMarine Biological LaboratoryWoods HoleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Civil EngineeringNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA

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