Assessment of potential anaerobic biotransformation of organic pollutants in sediment caps

Anthony M. Smith, Mary Jo Kirisits, Danny D. Reible

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


In situ capping is a remedial approach for reducing the risk of biota exposure to sediment contaminants. Biotransformation of contaminants in sand-based sediment caps, rarely considered in sediment cap design, could further reduce the exposure risk. The anaerobic biotransformation of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes (BTEX), monochlorobenzene, dichlorobenzenes and naphthalene was evaluated with sediments from Onondaga Lake in dilute sediment slurries and in sand-capped sediment laboratory-scale columns. The percentage of sediment samples demonstrating biotransformation under anaerobic conditions in slurries incubated at 12°C was greatest for BTEX, followed by monochlorobenzene, 1,4-dichlorobenzene, 1,2-dichlorobenzene and 1,3-dichlorobenzene. Only toluene biotransformation was observed in sand cap columns. The rate of toluene biotransformation diminished over time, which might be due to inhibition caused by hydrogen from the experimental setup. Results suggest potential for the biotransformation of toluene, and possibly other pollutants, in sand-based sediment caps under anaerobic conditions at low temperatures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-87
Number of pages8
JournalNew Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 15 2012


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