Stimulation of Hexachlorocyclohexane (HCH) Biodegradation in a Full Scale In Situ Bioscreen

A.A.M. Langenhoff, S.J.M. Staps, C. Pijls, H.H.M. Rijnaarts

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13 Citations (Scopus)


The feasibility of a bioscreen for the in situ biodegradation of HCH and its intermediates is demonstrated at a contaminated site in The Netherlands, via the discontinuous addition of methanol as electron donor. An infiltration system was installed and operated at the site over a length of 150 m and a depth of 8 m, to create an anaerobic infiltration zone in which HCH is converted. The construction of the infiltration system was combined with the redevelopment of the site. During passage through the bioscreen, the concentration of HCH in the groundwater decreased from 600 µg/L to the detection limit of the individual HCH isomers (0.01 µg/L) after one year of operation. The concentration of the intermediate biodegradation products benzene and chlorobenzene increased and achieved steady state values of respectively 800 and 2700 µg/L. Benzene and chlorobenzene were treated aerobically on site in an existing wastewater treatment plant. By changing the infiltration regime, it is conclusively shown that HCH removal is the result of the biological degradation and stimulated by the addition of methanol as electron donor. To our knowledge, this is the first successful field demonstration of the stimulated transformation of HCH to intermediates in a full scale anaerobic in situ bioscreen, combined with an aerobic on site treatment to harmless end products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11182-11188
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • sulfate-reducing bacteria
  • gamma-hexachlorocyclohexane
  • alpha-hexachlorocyclohexane
  • beta-hexachlorocyclohexane
  • aerobic biomineralization
  • reductive dechlorination
  • anaerobic-bacteria
  • mass-transfer
  • degradation
  • soil

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