Effect of redox conditions on MTBE biodegradation in surface water Sediments

Environmental Science & Technology
By: , and 

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Abstract

Microbial degradation of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) was observed in surface water-sediment microcosms under anaerobic conditions. The efficiency and products of anaerobic MTBE biodegradation were dependent on the predominant terminal electron-accepting conditions. In the presence of substantial methanogenic activity, MTBE biodegradation was nominal and involved reduction of MTBE to the toxic product, tert-butyl alcohol (TBA). In the absence of significant methanogenic activity, accumulation of [14C]TBA generally decreased, and mineralization of [U-14C]MTBE to 14CO2 generally increased as the oxidative potential of the predominant terminal electron acceptor increased in the order of SO4, Fe(III), Mn(IV) < NO3 < O2. Microbial mineralization of MTBE to CO2 under Mn(IV)or SO4-reducing conditions has not been reported previously. The results of this study indicate that microorganisms inhabiting the sediments of streams and lakes can degrade MTBE effectively under a range of anaerobic terminal electron-accepting conditions. Thus, anaerobic bed sediment microbial processes may provide a significant environmental sink for MTBE in surface water systems throughout the United States.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effect of redox conditions on MTBE biodegradation in surface water Sediments
Series title Environmental Science & Technology
DOI 10.1021/es010794x
Volume 35
Issue 23
Year Published 2001
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Environmental Science and Technology
First page 4643
Last page 4647