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Fate and transport of linear alkylbenzenesulfonate in a sewage- contaminated aquifer: A comparison of natural-gradient pulsed tracer tests

Environmental Science and Technology

By:
, , ,
DOI: 10.1021/es970717v

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Abstract

Two natural-gradient tracer tests were conducted to determine the transport and biodegradation behavior of linear alkylbenzenesulfonate (LAS) surfactant under in situ conditions in a sewage-contaminated aquifer. The tests were conducted in two biogeochemically distinct zones of the aquifer: (1) an aerobic uncontaminated zone (oxic zone) and (2) a moderately aerobic, sewage-contaminated zone (transition zone). Chromatographic separation of the surfactant mixture was observed in both zones and attributed to the retardation of the longer alkyl chain homologues during transport. No significant loss of IAS mass was observed for the oxic zone while 20% of the LAS mass injected into the transition zone was removed due to biodegradation. Biodegradation preferentially removed the longer alkyl chain homologues and the external isomers (i.e., 2- and 3-phenyl). The removal of LAS mass coincided with a decrease in dissolved oxygen concentrations, the appearance of LAS metabolites, and an increase in the number of free-living bacteria with a concomitant change in bacteria morphology. The formation of LAS metabolites accounted for 86% of the LAS mass removed in the transition zone. Over the duration of the test, sorption and biodegradation enriched the LAS mixture in the more water-soluble and biologically resistant components.Two natural-gradient tracer tests were conducted to determine the transport and biodegradation behavior of linear alkylbenzenesulfonate (LAS) surfactant under in situ conditions in a sewage-contaminated aquifer. The tests were conducted in two biogeochemically distinct zones of the aquifer: (1) an aerobic uncontaminated zone (oxic zone) and (2) a moderately aerobic, sewage-contaminated zone (transition zone). Chromatographic separation of the surfactant mixture was observed in both zones and attributed to the retardation of the longer alkyl chain homologues during transport. No significant loss of LAS mass was observed for the oxic zone while 20% of the LAS mass injected into the transition zone was removed due to biodegradation. Biodegradation preferentially removed the longer alkyl chain homologues and the external isomers (i.e., 2- and 3-phenyl). The removal of LAS mass coincided with a decrease in dissolved oxygen concentrations, the appearance of LAS metabolites, and an increase in the number of free-living bacteria with a concomitant change in bacteria morphology. The formation of LAS metabolites accounted for 86% of the LAS mass removed in the transition zone. Over the duration of the test, sorption and biodegradation enriched the LAS mixture in the more water-soluble and biologically resistant components.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Fate and transport of linear alkylbenzenesulfonate in a sewage- contaminated aquifer: A comparison of natural-gradient pulsed tracer tests
Series title:
Environmental Science and Technology
DOI:
10.1021/es970717v
Volume
32
Issue:
8
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Publisher:
ACS
Publisher location:
Washington, DC, United States
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Environmental Science and Technology
First page:
1134
Last page:
1142
Number of Pages:
9