Black carbon and kerogen in soils and sediments. 2. Their roles in equilibrium sorption of less-polar organic pollutants

Baohua Xiao, Zhiqiang Yu, Weilin Huang, Jianzhong Song, Ping'an Peng

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129 Scopus citations


The first paper of this series reported that soil/sediment organic matter (SOM) can be fractionated into four fractions with a combined wet chemical procedure and that kerogen and black carbon (BC) are major SOM components in soil/sediment samples collected from the industrialized suburban areas of Guangzhou, China. The goal of this study was to determine the sorptive properties for the four SOM fractions for organic contaminants. Sorption isotherms were measured with a batch technique using phenanthrene and naphthalene as the sorbates and four original and four Soxhlet-extracted soil/sediment samples, 15 isolated SOM fractions, and a char as the sorbents. The results showed that the sorption isotherms measured for all the sorbents were variously nonlinear. The isolated humic acid (HA) exhibited significantly nonlinear sorption, but its contribution to the overall isotherm nonlinearity and sorption capacity of the original soil was insignificant because of its low content in the tested soils and sediments. The particulate kerogen and black carbon (KB) fractions exhibited more nonlinear sorption with much higher organic carbon-normalized capacities for both sorbates. They dominate the observed overall sorption by the tested soils and sediments and are expected to be the most important soil components affecting bioavailability and ultimate fate of hydrophobic organic contaminants (HOCs). The fact that the isolated KB fractions exhibited much higher sorption capacities than when they were associated with soil/sediment matrixes suggested that a large fraction of the particulate kerogen and BC was not accessible to sorbing HOCs. Encapsulation within soil aggregates and surface coverage by inorganic and organic coatings may have caused large variations in the accessibility of fine kerogen and BC particles to HOCs and hence lowered the sorption capacity of the soil. This variability posts an ultimate challenge for precisely predicting HOC sorption by soils from the contents of different types of SOM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5842-5852
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 8 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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