Degradation reactions controlling the fate of 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane (PCA) in a freshwater tidal wetland that is a discharge area for a contaminated aquifer were investigated by a combined field and laboratory study. Samples from nested piezometers and porous-membrane sampling devices (peepers) showed that PCA concentrations decreased and that less chlorinated daughter products formed as the groundwater became increasingly reducing along upward flow paths through the wetland sediments. The cis and trans isomers of 1,2-dichloroethylene (12DCE) and vinyl chloride (VC) were the predominant daughter products detected from degradation of PCA in the field and in microcosms constructed under methanogenic conditions. Significantly lower ratios of cis-12DCE to trans-12DCE were produced by PCA degradation than by degradation of trichloroethylene, a common co-contaminant with PCA. 1,1,2-Trichloroethane (112TCA) and 1,2-dichloroethane (12DCA) occurred simultaneously with 12DCE, indicating simultaneous hydrogenolysis and dichloroelimination of PCA. From an initial PCA concentration of about 1.5 ??mol/L, concentrations of PCA and its daughter products decreased to below detection within a 1.0-m vertical distance in the wetland sediments and within 34 days in the microcosms. The results indicate that natural attenuation of PCA through complete anaerobic biodegradation can occur in wetlands before sensitive surface water receptors are reached.
Additional publication details
Degradation of 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane in a freshwater tidal wetland: Field and laboratory evidence