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Enhanced biochars can match activated carbon performance in sediments with high native bioavailability and low final porewater PCB concentrations

Gomez-Eyles, Jose L., Ghosh, Upal
Chemosphere 2018 v.203 pp. 179-187
Oligochaeta, activated carbon, bioaccumulation, bioavailability, biochar, bulk density, cadmium, pollutants, polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, sediments, sorption
A bench scale study was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of in situ amendments to reduce the bioavailability of pollutants in sediments from a site impacted with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and cadmium. The amendments tested included fine and coarse coal-based activated carbons (AC), an enhanced pinewood derived biochar (EPB), organoclay, and coke dosed at 5% of sediment dry weight. Strong reductions in total PCB porewater concentrations were observed in sediments amended with the fine AC (94.9–99.5%) and EPB (99.6–99.8%). More modest reductions were observed for the coarse AC, organoclay, and coke. Strong reductions in porewater PCB concentrations were reflected in reductions in total PCB bioaccumulation in fresh water oligochaetes for both the fine AC (91.9–96.0%) and EPB (96.1–96.3%). Total PAH porewater concentrations were also greatly reduced by the fine AC (>96.1%) and EPB (>97.8%) treatments. EPB matched or slightly outperformed the fine AC throughout the study, despite sorption data indicating a much stronger affinity of PCBs for the fine AC. Modeling EPB and fine AC effectiveness on other sediments confirmed the high effectiveness of the EPB was due to the very low final porewater concentrations and differences in the native bioavailability between sediments. However, low bulk density and poor settling characteristics make biochars difficult to apply in an aquatic setting. Neither the EPB nor the fine AC amendments were able to significantly reduce Cd bioavailability.