Dynamics of PCB removal and detoxification in historically contaminated soils amended with activated carbon

Galina K. Vasilyeva, Elena R. Strijakova, Svetlana N. Nikolaeva, Albert T. Lebedev, Patrick J. Shea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Activated carbon (AC) can help overcome toxicity of pollutants to microbes and facilitate soil bioremediation. We used this approach to treat a Histosol and an Alluvial soil historically contaminated with PCB (4190 and 1585 mg kg-1, respectively; primarily tri-, tetra- and pentachlorinated congeners). Results confirmed PCB persistence; reductions in PCB extractable from control and AC-amended soils were mostly due to a decrease in tri- and to some extent tetrachlorinated congeners as well as formation of a bound fraction. Mechanisms of PCB binding by soil and AC were different. In addition to microbial degradation of less chlorinated congeners, we postulate AC catalyzed dechlorination of higher chlorinated congeners. A large decrease in bioavailable PCB in AC-amended soils was demonstrated by greater clover germination and biomass. Phytotoxicity was low in treated soils but remained high in untreated soils for the duration of a 39-month experiment. These observations indicate the utility of AC for remediation of soils historically contaminated with PCB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)770-777
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2010


  • Activated carbon
  • Bioavailability
  • Polychlorinated biphenyl
  • Soil bioremediation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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