Bioavailability of Desorption Resistant Hydrocarbons in Sediment-Water Systems.

EPA Grant Number: R825513C024
Subproject: this is subproject number 024 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R825513
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: HSRC (1989) - South and Southwest HSRC
Center Director: Reible, Danny D.
Title: Bioavailability of Desorption Resistant Hydrocarbons in Sediment-Water Systems.
Investigators: Hughes, Joseph B , Pardue, J. , Tomson, Mason B. , Reible, Danny D. , Thibodeaux, Louis J. , Kan, Amy T. , Valsaraj, Kalliat T. , Fleeger, J. W.
Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology , Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: January 1, 1998 through January 1, 2001
Project Amount: Refer to main center abstract for funding details.
RFA: Hazardous Substance Research Centers - HSRC (1989) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Substance Research Centers , Nanotechnology , Land and Waste Management


The goal of this research is to characterize the irreversible desorption of hydrophobic organic contaminants to sediments and couple with the assessment of bioavailability to bioturbating macroflora, microorganisms, and aquatic plants. The specific objectives of the project included:

  • Determine the extent of irreversible adsorption to historically contaminated and laboratory prepared sediments and the effect of process variables such as T, pH, TDS, OC, flow and weathering on that adsorption.
  • Determine the impact of irreversible (or desorption-resistant) adsorption versus reversible adsorption on the biodegradation of organic contaminants and the corresponding interaction with bioturbation, and;
  • Determine the extent of organic contaminant bioaccumulation and metabolism by sediment-dwelling worms when ingesting contaminants that are adsorbed either reversibly or irreversibly;
  • Determine the rate, extent and effects of uptake of irreversibly sorbed contaminants on selected wetland plant systems and the associated rhizosphere.
  • Approach:

    The research is directed toward understanding and explaining the observed increased persistence and decreased availability of hydrocarbons in natural biologically-active sediments and the corresponding consequences to prediction, control and regulation of these contaminants. The are addressing three critical aspects of the bioavailability of the irreversibly adsorbed compartment: availability to microbial degradation, availability to bioturbating, sediment-dwelling macro fauna, and availability to wetland plant systems. These organisms and processes are generally the most significant influences on the fate of hydrophobic contaminants in sediments not subject to significant scour or resuspension. These studies have focused on low solubility organic contaminants with particular emphasis on polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known to be biodegraded and bioaccumulated and are primary soil and sediment contaminants in Regions 4 and 6.

    The conceptual model through which the work has been designed and interpreted is that defined by Mason Tomson, Amy Kan and co-workers at Rice University in research supported from 1991-1998 by the HSRC. This work has established that contaminant sorption to sediments is biphasic with a desorption-resistant fraction of fixed maximum capacity. The desorption from both reversible and the desorption-resistant compartments can be described by equilibrium considerations. The desorption isotherm observed by Tomson and Kan can be described by the combination of a linear and a nonlinear Langmuir isotherm. This approach is functionally equivalent to the dual reactive domain model of Huang and Weber (1997). The Rice research group has made substantial progress in establishing the concept of irreversible adsorption as a fate mechanism in natural sediments (e.g. Kan et al., 1994; Hunter et al., 1996; Kan et al., 1997; Kan et al. 1998).

    Publications and Presentations:

    Publications have been submitted on this subproject: View all 44 publications for this subprojectView all 392 publications for this center

    Journal Articles:

    Journal Articles have been submitted on this subproject: View all 9 journal articles for this subprojectView all 106 journal articles for this center

    Supplemental Keywords:

    bioturbation, phytoremediation, and bioremediation., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Waste, Water, Chemical Engineering, Contaminated Sediments, Environmental Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Hazardous Waste, Bioremediation, Ecology and Ecosystems, Environmental Engineering, Hazardous, environmental technology, sediment treatment, hazardous waste management, hazardous waste treatment, risk assessment, decontamination of soil and water, soil and groundwater remediation, microbial degradation, biodegradation, decontamination of soil, bioavailability, risk management, contaminated sediment, chemical contaminants, PAH, microbes, contaminated soil, bioremediation of soils, contaminants in soil, remediation, biotransformation, anaerobic biotransformation, waste mixtures, technology transfer, extraction of metals, bioturbation, phytoremediation, contaminated soils

    Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998
  • 1999
  • Final Report

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R825513    HSRC (1989) - South and Southwest HSRC

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R825513C001 Sediment Resuspension and Contaminant Transport in an Estuary.
    R825513C002 Contaminant Transport Across Cohesive Sediment Interfaces.
    R825513C003 Mobilization and Fate of Inorganic Contaminant due to Resuspension of Cohesive Sediment.
    R825513C004 Source Identification, Transformation, and Transport Processes of N-, O- and S- Containing Organic Chemicals in Wetland and Upland Sediments.
    R825513C005 Mobility and Transport of Radium from Sediment and Waste Pits.
    R825513C006 Anaerobic Biodegradation of 2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene and Other Nitroaromatic Compounds by Clostridium Acetobutylicum.
    R825513C007 Investigation on the Fate and Biotransformation of Hexachlorobutadiene and Chlorobenzenes in a Sediment-Water Estuarine System
    R825513C008 An Investigation of Chemical Transport from Contaminated Sediments through Porous Containment Structures
    R825513C009 Evaluation of Placement and Effectiveness of Sediment Caps
    R825513C010 Coupled Biological and Physicochemical Bed-Sediment Processes
    R825513C011 Pollutant Fluxes to Aquatic Systems via Coupled Biological and Physicochemical Bed-Sediment Processes
    R825513C012 Controls on Metals Partitioning in Contaminated Sediments
    R825513C013 Phytoremediation of TNT Contaminated Soil and Groundwaters
    R825513C014 Sediment-Based Remediation of Hazardous Substances at a Contaminated Military Base
    R825513C015 Effect of Natural Dynamic Changes on Pollutant-Sediment Interaction
    R825513C016 Desorption of Nonpolar Organic Pollutants from Historically Contaminated Sediments and Dredged Materials
    R825513C017 Modeling Air Emissions of Organic Compounds from Contaminated Sediments and Dredged Materials title change in last year to "Long-term Release of Pollutants from Contaminated Sediment Dredged Material"
    R825513C018 Development of an Integrated Optic Interferometer for In-Situ Monitoring of Volatile Hydrocarbons
    R825513C019 Bioremediation of Contaminated Sediments and Dredged Material
    R825513C020 Bioremediation of Sediments Contaminated with Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons
    R825513C021 Role of Particles in Mobilizing Hazardous Chemicals in Urban Runoff
    R825513C022 Particle Transport and Deposit Morphology at the Sediment/Water Interface
    R825513C023 Uptake of Metal Ions from Aqueous Solutions by Sediments
    R825513C024 Bioavailability of Desorption Resistant Hydrocarbons in Sediment-Water Systems.
    R825513C025 Interactive Roles of Microbial and Spartina Populations in Mercury Methylation Processes in Bioremediation of Contaminated Sediments in Salt-Marsh Systems
    R825513C026 Evaluation of Physical-Chemical Methods for Rapid Assessment of the Bioavailability of Moderately Polar Compounds in Sediments
    R825513C027 Freshwater Bioturbators in Riverine Sediments as Enhancers of Contaminant Release
    R825513C028 Characterization of Laguna Madre Contaminated Sediments.
    R825513C029 The Role of Competitive Adsorption of Suspended Sediments in Determining Partitioning and Colloidal Stability.
    R825513C030 Remediation of TNT-Contaminated Soil by Cyanobacterial Mat.
    R825513C031 Experimental and Detailed Mathematical Modeling of Diffusion of Contaminants in Fluids
    R825513C033 Application of Biotechnology in Bioremediation of Contaminated Sediments
    R825513C034 Characterization of PAH's Degrading Bacteria in Coastal Sediments
    R825513C035 Dynamic Aspects of Metal Speciation in the Miami River Sediments in Relation to Particle Size Distribution of Chemical Heterogeneity