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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Bioremediation and Biodegradation

Biodegradation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Oil-Contaminated Beach Sediments Treated with Nutrient Amendments


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 3, p. 861-867
    Received: June 20, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): chejpo@nus.edu.sg
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  1. Ran Xu and
  2. Jeffrey P. Obbard *
  1. Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, National University of Singapore, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260


Microbial biodegradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) during the process of bioremediation can be constrained by lack of nutrients, low bioavailability of the contaminants, or scarcity of PAH-biodegrading microorganisms. This study focused on addressing the limitation of nutrient availability for PAH biodegradation in oil-contaminated beach sediments. In our previous study, three nutrient sources including inorganic soluble nutrients, the slow-release fertilizer Osmocote (Os; Scotts, Marysville, OH) and Inipol EAP-22 (Ip; ATOFINA Chemicals, Philadelphia, PA), as well as their combinations, were applied to beach sediments contaminated with an Arabian light crude oil. Osmocote was the most effective nutrient source for aliphatic biodegradation. This study presents data on PAH biodegradation in the oil-spiked beach sediments amended with the three nutrients. Biodegradation of total target PAHs (two- to six-ring) in all treatments followed a first-order biodegradation model. The biodegradation rates of total target PAHs in the sediments treated with Os were significantly higher than those without. On Day 45, approximately 9.3% of total target PAHs remained in the sediments amended with Os alone, significantly lower than the 54.2 to 58.0% remaining in sediment treatments without Os. Amendment with Inipol or soluble nutrients alone, or in combination, did not stimulate biodegradation rates of PAHs with a ring number higher than 2. The slow-release fertilizer (Os) is therefore recommended as an effective nutrient amendment for intrinsic biodegradation of PAHs in oil-contaminated beach sediments.

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