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In situ application of activated carbon and biochar to PCB-contaminated soil and the effects of mixing regime

Denyes, Mackenzie J., Rutter, Allison, Zeeb, Barbara A.
Environmental pollution 2013 v.182 pp. 201-208
Cucurbita pepo, Eisenia fetida, activated carbon, bioaccumulation, bioavailability, biochar, earthworms, greenhouses, mixing, polluted soils, polychlorinated biphenyls, shoots
The in situ use of carbon amendments such as activated carbon (AC) and biochar to minimize the bioavailability of organic contaminants is gaining in popularity. In the first in situ experiment conducted at a Canadian PCB-contaminated Brownfield site, GAC and two types of biochar were statistically equal at reducing PCB uptake into plants. PCB concentrations in Cucurbita pepo root tissue were reduced by 74%, 72% and 64%, with the addition of 2.8% GAC, Burt's biochar and BlueLeaf biochar, respectively. A complementary greenhouse study which included a bioaccumulation study of Eisenia fetida (earthworm), found mechanically mixing carbon amendments with PCB-contaminated soil (i.e. 24 h at 30 rpm) resulted in shoot, root and worm PCB concentrations 66%, 59% and 39% lower than in the manually mixed treatments (i.e. with a spade and bucket). Therefore, studies which mechanically mix carbon amendments with contaminated soil may over-estimate the short-term potential to reduce PCB bioavailability.