Release of Adsorbed Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons Under Cosolvent Treatment: Implications for Availability and Fate
During laboratory and field studies, a fraction of contaminants in soils or sediments often is observed to be highly resistant to desorption. This desorption-resistant fraction may have significant effects on long-term fate and exposure of soil/ sediment-bound contaminants in particular, causing much reduced availability and contaminant persistence. Previous work by many research groups has indicated that this nonideal desorption behavior could be better predicted with biphasic desorption models. The present study further investigated the release of naphthalene and phenanthrene from sediments during and after cosolvent treatment. Experimental results indicate that release of these two compounds under cosolvent conditions can be accurately predicted with a previously developed, biphasic desorption model when the solubility enhancement effect of cosolvent is accounted for using standard activity coefficient ratios. In addition, desorption of the residual contaminants after cosolvent treatment follows the original biphasic desorption model very well, suggesting that cosolvent treatment increases only the aqueous solubility and has little effect on the nature of the desorption-resistant fraction and that cosolvent desorption is a valuable analytical tool for quickly measuring the magnitude of the desorption-resistant fraction. The present findings might have important implications for the mechanisms controlling resistant desorption of hydrophobic organic compounds and for predicting the availability and long-term fate of contaminants in soils and sediments.