Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins have been generated as unwanted by-products in many industrial processes. Although their widespread distribution in different environmental compartments has been recognized, little is known about their fate in the ultimate environment sinks. The highly stable dioxin isomer 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) has been called the most toxic compound known to man. In this laboratory microcosm study, TCDD bioavailability was evaluated under five reduction/oxidation (redox) conditions including aerobic biodegradation, aerobic cometabolism, methanogenesis, iron reduction, and reductive dechlorination. Activated sludge and aquifer sediments from a TCDD and a pentachlorophenol (PCP) contaminated site were used as the inocula. Acetate, sludge cake, and cane molasses were used as the primary substrates (carbon sources) in cometabolism and reductive dechlorination microcosms. After a 90-day incubation period, microcosms constructed under reductive dechlorination conditions were the only treatment showing promising remediation results. The highest TCDD degradation rate [up to 86% of TCDD removal (with an initial concentration of 96 μg/kg of soil)] was observed in the microcosms with anaerobic activated sludge as the microbial inocula and sludge cakes as the primary substrates. Except for reductive dechlorination microcosms, no significant TCDD removal was observed in the microcosms prepared under other conditions. Thus, application of an effective primary substrate to enhance the reductive dechlorination process is a feasible method for TCDD bioremediation. Bioremediation expense can be significantly reduced by the supplement of some less expensive alternative substrates (e.g., sludge cakes, cane molasses). Results would be useful in designing a scale-up in situ or on-site bioremediation system such as bioslurry reactor for field application.
- Reductive dechlorination