Influence of non-ionic surfactants on the biovailability and biodegradation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

F. Volkering, A.M. Breure, J.G. van Andel, W.H. Rulkens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

278 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The presence of the synthetic nonionic surfactants Triton X-100, Tergitol NPX, Brij 35, and Igepal CA-720 resulted not only in increased apparent solubilities but also in increased maximal rates of dissolution of crystalline naphthalene and phenanthrene. A model based on the assumption that surfactant micelles are formed and act as a separate phase underestimated the dissolution rates; this led to the conclusion that surfactants present at concentrations higher than the critical micelle concentration affect the dissolution process. This conclusion was confirmed by the results of batch growth experiments, which showed that the rates of biodegradation of naphthalene and phenanthrene in the dissolution-limited growth phase were increased by the addition of surfactant, indicating that the dissolution rates were higher than the rates in the absence of surfactant. In activity and growth experiments, no toxic effects of the surfactants at concentrations up to 10 g liter(sup-1) were observed. Substrate present in the micellar phase was shown to be not readily available for degradation by the microorganisms. This finding has important consequences for the application of (bio)surfactants in biological soil remediation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1699-1705
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Volume61
Publication statusPublished - 1995

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