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Mineralization Of Monosubstituted Aromatic Compounds In Unsaturated And Saturated Subsurface Soils

Thomas W. Federle

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The mineralization of benzoic acid, phenol, and benzylamine was determined as a function of depth in two 20-m sandy soil profiles, one of which was adjacent to a leach field receiving wastewater from a laundromat. Soil samples were collected aseptically, adjusted to 20–25% water content and amended with a trace level (50 ng/g soil) of the 14C-ring-labeled compounds. Evolution of CO2 was followed with time. First-order rate constants and the extents of mineralization were estimated from the resulting data by nonlinear regression. All three compounds were mineralized in every sample examined without a lag period. In general, phenol was mineralized more rapidly than benzoic acid, which was more rapidly mineralized than benzylamine. Benzylamine had the highest sorption coefficient; phenol had the lowest. Average half-life was 0.56 days for phenol, 0.84 days for benzoic acid, and 1.31 days for benzylamine. Mineralization rates did not correlate with bacterial number, fluorescein diacetate hydrolysis rate, or any soil characteristic. The ultimate percentage of all three compounds mineralized was lowest in the upper 3 m of both soil profiles. The total amounts of phenol and benzoic acid mineralized negatively correlated with cation-exchange capacity and silt content. Statistical analysis (2-level nested ANOVA) revealed that only the rate of phenol mineralization varied significantly as a function of soil profile, but rates for all three compounds varied significantly as a function of depth within a profile.