The environmental fate of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soils is motivated by their wide distribution, high persistence, and potentially deleterious effect on human health. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons constitute the largest group of environmental contaminants released in the environment. Therefore, the potential biodegradation of these compounds is of vital importance. A biocarrier suitable for the colonization by micro-organisms for the purpose of purifying soil contaminated by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons was developed. The optimized composition of the biocarrier was polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) 10%, sodium alginate (SA) 0.5%, and powdered activated carbon (PAC) 5%. There was no observable cytotoxicity of biocarriers on immobilized cells and a viable cell population of 1.86 × 1010 g–1 was maintained for immobilized bacterium. Biocarriers made from chemical methods had a higher biodegradation but lower mechanical strengths. Immobilized bacterium Zoogloea sp. had an ideal capability of biodegradation for phenanthrene and pyrene over a relative wide concentration range. The study results showed that the biodegradation of phenanthrene and pyrene reached 87.0 and 75.4%, respectively, by using the optimal immobilized method of Zoogloea sp. cultivated in a sterilized soil. Immobilized Zoogloea sp. was found to be effective for biodegrading the soil contaminated with phenanthrene and pyrene. Even in "natural" (unsterilized) soil, the biodegradation of phenanthrene and pyrene using immobilized Zoogloea sp. reached 85.0 and 67.1%, respectively, after 168 h of cultivation, more than twice that achieved if the cells were not immobilized on the biocarrier. Therefore, the immobilization technology enhanced the competitive ability of introduced micro-organisms and represents an effective method for the biotreatment of soil contaminated with phenanthrene and pyrene.
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