Assessment of five bioaccessibility assays for predicting the efficacy of petroleum hydrocarbon biodegradation in aged contaminated soils

C Dandie, John Weber, Samuel Aleer, Eric Adetutu, Andrew Ball, Albert Juhasz

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    53 Citations (Scopus)


    In this study, the bioaccessibility of petroleum hydrocarbons in aged contaminated soils (1.6-67gkg-1) was assessed using four non-exhaustive extraction techniques (100% 1-butanol, 100% 1-propanol, 50% 1-propanol in water and hydroxypropyl-β-cyclodextrin) and the persulfate oxidation method. Using linear regression analysis, residual hydrocarbon concentrations following bioaccessibility assessment were compared to residual hydrocarbon concentrations following biodegradation in laboratory-scale microcosms in order to determine whether bioaccessibility assays can predict the endpoint of hydrocarbon biodegradation. The relationship between residual hydrocarbon concentrations following microcosm biodegradation and bioaccessibility assessment was linear (r2=0.71-0.97) indicating that bioaccessibility assays have the potential to predict the extent of hydrocarbon biodegradation. However, the slope of best fit varied depending on the hydrocarbon fractional range assessed. For the C10-C14 hydrocarbon fraction, the slope of best fit ranged from 0.12 to 0.27 indicating that the non-exhaustive or persulfate oxidation methods removed 3.5-8 times more hydrocarbons than biodegradation. Conversely, for the higher molecular weight hydrocarbon fractions (C29-C36 and C37-C40), biodegradation removed up to 3.3 times more hydrocarbons compared to bioaccessibility assays with the resulting slope of best fit ranging from 1.0-1.9 to 2.0-3.3 respectively. For mid-range hydrocarbons (C15-C28), a slope of approximately one was obtained indicating that C15-C28 hydrocarbon removal by these bioaccessibility assays may approximate the extent of biodegradation. While this study demonstrates the potential of predicting biodegradation endpoints using bioaccessibility assays, limitations of the study include a small data set and that all soils were collected from a single site, presumably resulting from a single contamination source. Further evaluation and validation is required using soils from a range of hydrocarbon contamination sources in order to develop robust assays for predicting bioremediation endpoints in the field.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1061-1068
    Number of pages8
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


    • Bioaccessibility
    • Microcosm biodegradation
    • Organic contaminants
    • Petroleum hydrocarbons


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