Final Report: Effects of Surfactants on the Bioavailability and Biodegradation of Contaminants in Soils

EPA Grant Number: R825549C057
Subproject: this is subproject number 057 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R825549
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: HSRC (1989) - Great Plains/Rocky Mountain HSRC
Center Director: Erickson, Larry E.
Title: Effects of Surfactants on the Bioavailability and Biodegradation of Contaminants in Soils
Investigators: Inskeep, William P. , Johnston, Carl G. , Wraith, Jon M.
Institution: Montana State University - Bozeman
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: May 18, 1995 through May 31, 1999
Project Amount: Refer to main center abstract for funding details.
RFA: Hazardous Substance Research Centers - HSRC (1989) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Analysis/Treatment of Contaminated Soil , Land and Waste Management


These objectives will be accomplished by performing a series of contaminant partitioning (soil/water) studies using a wide range of surfactants with varying structures (hydrophobicity, functional group content, monomer size and micelle size). Functional relationships between surfactant concentration, surfactant structure and the extent of contaminant (phenanthrene, PCP, DDT, PCB) solubilized will be established using batch and column studies. Effects of surfactants on subsequent biodegradation rates of phenanthrene, PCP, DDT and PCB will be studied under batch and transport conditions using two representative bioremediation strategies: indigenous microbial populations, and addition of white-rot fungi. Degradation rates will be determined under batch and transport conditions in previously uncontaminated soils with and without contaminant aging. In addition, contaminant degradation in soil samples from several field sites contaminated with PCP and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) will be compared to controlled laboratory experiments.

Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes):

The proposed project is designed to improve our understanding of fundamental relationships between surfactant chemistry, contaminant solubilization and subsequent biodegradation rates in soils, while developing novel methods which may be useful in the bioremediation of nonpolar organic compounds in soils. The proposed project represents an interdisciplinary effort in soil chemistry, soil microbiology and soil physics, and contains a strong technology transfer component. One of the principal investigators is a Senior Scientist from a regional biotechnology firm (Mycotech Corp.), specializing in fungal bioremediation. In addition, two of the principal investigators work in close collaboration with the Center for Biofilm Engineering (MSU). Collaboration with the Engineering Research Center enhances the possibility of technology transfer via a well organized Industrial Associates Program. Consequently, there is a commitment among the principal investigators to work on practical solutions to increasing the bioavailability of contaminants in soils. We feel that the proposed collaboration with industry represents an excellent opportunity to develop successful technologies for bioremediation of organic contaminants in soils and groundwater aquifers.

One of the strategies for enhancing desorption rates and subsequent biodegradation rates of nonpolar contaminants (NOCs) in soils is the use of surfactants. Many surfactants have been shown to increase the apparent water solubility and decrease the soil/water partition coefficients of NOCs. Most of the research effort in surfactant solubilization of NOCs has focussed on micelle-forming surfactants, which do not show appreciable reduction in soil/water partition coefficients until aqueous surfactant concentrations exceed the critical micelle concentration (CMC). Many micelle-forming surfactants have CMC values which are high enough to make large scale application uneconomical. Furthermore, the addition of large amounts of surfactants to soil or groundwater aquifers may represent additional contamination and may inhibit microbial activity by disrupting membrane functions. Although there is significant interest in the application of surfactant technology to soil bioremediation, very little data exists on the effects of surfactants on actual contaminant biodegradation rates. Much of the data on the role of surfactants in bioremediation has been collected on a very narrow range of nonionic micelle-forming surfactants. Yet, there is an enormous diversity of surfactant structures, some of which may be effective at solubilizing sorbed contaminant and enhancing biodegradation rates in soils.

Over the course of this project, we have completed experiments in four major thrust areas: (I) surfactant effects on the solubilization and subsequent transport of NOCs through soils, (ii) surfactant effects on the degradation of pentachlorophenol (PCP) using white-rot fungi, (iii) surfactant effects on the degradation of contaminants using indigenous microorganisms (in the absence and presence of nonaqueous phase liquids, NAPLs), and (iv) evaluation of microbial population shifts as a result of surfactant application intended to stimulate bioremediation of organic contaminants. Results from this work have been presented at national meetings, culminated in one M.S. Thesis, and have formed the basis for several refereed publications.

Previous work completed during years one and two of this project pertained directly to the activities of a fungal bioremediation firm located in Butte, MT (Mycotech Corporation). The results we have presented previously regarding surfactant effects on degradation of pentachlorophenol (PCP) by white-rot fungi helped to establish surfactant rates and types necessary to stimulate fungi. It is hoped that our work will contribute to bioremediation field, and potentially be used to assist in evaluating cost effective bioremediation strategies.

Journal Articles on this Report : 5 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other subproject views: All 10 publications 5 publications in selected types All 5 journal articles
Other center views: All 904 publications 230 publications in selected types All 182 journal articles
Type Citation Sub Project Document Sources
Journal Article Colores GM, Macur RE, Ward DM, Inskeep WP. Molecular analysis of surfactant-driven microbial population shifts in hydrocarbon-contaminated soil. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2000;66(7):2959-2964. R825549C057 (Final)
not available
Journal Article Doughten RA, Inskeep WP, Johnson CG. Mineralization of pentachlorophenol in soil by a white-rot fungi in the presence of surfactants. Journal of Environmental Quality 1999. R825549C057 (Final)
not available
Journal Article Grosser RJ, Friedrich M, Ward DM, Inskeep WP. Effect of model sorptive phases on phenanthrene biodegradation: Molecular analysis of enrichments and isolates suggests selection based on bioavailability. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 2000;66(7):2695-2702. R825549C057 (Final)
not available
Journal Article Langner HW, Inskeep WP, Gaber HM, Jones WL, Das BS, Wraith JM. Pore water velocity and residence time effects on the degradation of 2,4-D during transport. Environmental Science & Technology 1998;32(9):1308-1315. R825549C057 (Final)
not available
Journal Article Macur RE, Inskeep WP. Effects of a nonionic surfactant on biodegradation of phenanthrene and hexadecane in soil. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 1999;18(9):1927-1931. R825549C057 (Final)
not available

Supplemental Keywords:

surfactants, bioavailability, biodegradation, nonpolar organic compounds., Scientific Discipline, Waste, Water, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Contaminated Sediments, Environmental Chemistry, Geochemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Fate & Transport, Bioremediation, Ecology and Ecosystems, fate and transport, PCP, migration, contaminant transport, nonpolar organic compounds, biodegradation, bioavailability, contaminated sediment, pesticides, adsorption, bioremediation of soils, biotechnology, contaminants in soil, chemical kinetics, slurry biotreatment, surfactants, agrochemicals, contaminated soils, Pentachlorophenol

Relevant Websites: Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 1995
  • 1996
  • 1997
  • 1998

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R825549    HSRC (1989) - Great Plains/Rocky Mountain HSRC

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R825549C006 Fate of Trichloroethylene (TCE) in Plant/Soil Systems
    R825549C007 Experimental Study of Stabilization/Solidification of Hazardous Wastes
    R825549C008 Modeling Dissolved Oxygen, Nitrate and Pesticide Contamination in the Subsurface Environment
    R825549C009 Vadose Zone Decontamination by Air Venting
    R825549C010 Thermochemical Treatment of Hazardous Wastes
    R825549C011 Development, Characterization and Evaluation of Adsorbent Regeneration Processes for Treament of Hazardous Waste
    R825549C012 Computer Method to Estimate Safe Level Water Quality Concentrations for Organic Chemicals
    R825549C013 Removal of Nitrogenous Pesticides from Rural Well-Water Supplies by Enzymatic Ozonation Process
    R825549C014 The Characterization and Treatment of Hazardous Materials from Metal/Mineral Processing Wastes
    R825549C015 Adsorption of Hazardous Substances onto Soil Constituents
    R825549C016 Reclamation of Metal and Mining Contaminated Superfund Sites using Sewage Sludge/Fly Ash Amendment
    R825549C017 Metal Recovery and Reuse Using an Integrated Vermiculite Ion Exchange - Acid Recovery System
    R825549C018 Removal of Heavy Metals from Hazardous Wastes by Protein Complexation for their Ultimate Recovery and Reuse
    R825549C019 Development of In-situ Biodegradation Technology
    R825549C020 Migration and Biodegradation of Pentachlorophenol in Soil Environment
    R825549C021 Deep-Rooted Poplar Trees as an Innovative Treatment Technology for Pesticide and Toxic Organics Removal from Soil and Groundwater
    R825549C022 In-situ Soil and Aquifer Decontaminaiton using Hydrogen Peroxide and Fenton's Reagent
    R825549C023 Simulation of Three-Dimensional Transport of Hazardous Chemicals in Heterogeneous Soil Cores Using X-ray Computed Tomography
    R825549C024 The Response of Natural Groundwater Bacteria to Groundwater Contamination by Gasoline in a Karst Region
    R825549C025 An Electrochemical Method for Acid Mine Drainage Remediation and Metals Recovery
    R825549C026 Sulfide Size and Morphology Identificaiton for Remediation of Acid Producing Mine Wastes
    R825549C027 Heavy Metals Removal from Dilute Aqueous Solutions using Biopolymers
    R825549C028 Neutron Activation Analysis for Heavy Metal Contaminants in the Environment
    R825549C029 Reducing Heavy Metal Availability to Perennial Grasses and Row-Crops Grown on Contaminated Soils and Mine Spoils
    R825549C030 Alachlor and Atrazine Losses from Runoff and Erosion in the Blue River Basin
    R825549C031 Biodetoxification of Mixed Solid and Hazardous Wastes by Staged Anaerobic Fermentation Conducted at Separate Redox and pH Environments
    R825549C032 Time Dependent Movement of Dioxin and Related Compounds in Soil
    R825549C033 Impact of Soil Microflora on Revegetation Efforts in Southeast Kansas
    R825549C034 Modeling the use of Plants in Remediation of Soil and Groundwater Contaminated by Hazardous Organic Substances
    R825549C035 Development of Electrochemical Processes for Improved Treatment of Lead Wastes
    R825549C036 Innovative Treatment and Bank Stabilization of Metals-Contaminated Soils and Tailings along Whitewood Creek, South Dakota
    R825549C037 Formation and Transformation of Pesticide Degradation Products Under Various Electron Acceptor Conditions
    R825549C038 The Effect of Redox Conditions on Transformations of Carbon Tetrachloride
    R825549C039 Remediation of Soil Contaminated with an Organic Phase
    R825549C040 Intelligent Process Design and Control for the Minimization of Waste Production and Treatment of Hazardous Waste
    R825549C041 Heavy Metals Removal from Contaminated Water Solutions
    R825549C042 Metals Soil Pollution and Vegetative Remediation
    R825549C043 Fate and Transport of Munitions Residues in Contaminated Soil
    R825549C044 The Role of Metallic Iron in the Biotransformation of Chlorinated Xenobiotics
    R825549C045 Use of Vegetation to Enhance Bioremediation of Surface Soils Contaminated with Pesticide Wastes
    R825549C046 Fate and Transport of Heavy Metals and Radionuclides in Soil: The Impacts of Vegetation
    R825549C047 Vegetative Interceptor Zones for Containment of Heavy Metal Pollutants
    R825549C048 Acid-Producing Metalliferous Waste Reclamation by Material Reprocessing and Vegetative Stabilization
    R825549C049 Laboratory and Field Evaluation of Upward Mobilization and Photodegradation of Polychlorinated Dibenzo-P-Dioxins and Furans in Soil
    R825549C050 Evaluation of Biosparging Performance and Process Fundamentals for Site Remediation
    R825549C051 Field Scale Bioremediation: Relationship of Parent Compound Disappearance to Humification, Mineralization, Leaching, Volatilization of Transformaiton Intermediates
    R825549C052 Chelating Extraction of Heavy Metals from Contaminated Soils
    R825549C053 Application of Anaerobic and Multiple-Electron-Acceptor Bioremediation to Chlorinated Aliphatic Subsurface Contamination
    R825549C054 Application of PGNAA Remote Sensing Methods to Real-Time, Non-Intrusive Determination of Contaminant Profiles in Soils
    R825549C055 Design and Development of an Innovative Industrial Scale Process to Economically Treat Waste Zinc Residues
    R825549C056 Remediation of Soils Contaminated with Wood-Treatment Chemicals (PCP and Creosote)
    R825549C057 Effects of Surfactants on the Bioavailability and Biodegradation of Contaminants in Soils
    R825549C058 Contaminant Binding to the Humin Fraction of Soil Organic Matter
    R825549C059 Identifying Ground-Water Threats from Improperly Abandoned Boreholes
    R825549C060 Uptake of BTEX Compounds by Hybrid Poplar Trees in Hazardous Waste Remediation
    R825549C061 Biofilm Barriers for Waste Containment
    R825549C062 Plant Assisted Remediation of Soil and Groundwater Contaminated by Hazardous Organic Substances: Experimental and Modeling Studies
    R825549C063 Extension of Laboratory Validated Treatment and Remediation Technologies to Field Problems in Aquifer Soil and Water Contamination by Organic Waste Chemicals