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153 Groundwater Pollution and Remediation

Part 13. Groundwater

  1. Walt McNab,
  2. Fred Hoffman,
  3. Brendan Dooher

Published Online: 15 APR 2006

DOI: 10.1002/0470848944.hsa159

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences

How to Cite

McNab, W., Hoffman, F. and Dooher, B. 2006. Groundwater Pollution and Remediation. Encyclopedia of Hydrological Sciences. 13:153.

Author Information

  1. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Environmental Restoration Division, Livermore, CA, US

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2006


Contamination of groundwater resources by a variety of anthropogenic pollutants from both point and non-point sources represents a key global environmental problem. Contaminant species of concern include solvents, fuel hydrocarbons, heavy metals, pesticides, nitrate, and radionuclides. Groundwater contamination reflects local physical hydrogeological considerations but also the inherent properties of the contaminants. An understanding of the factors controlling contaminant behavior in the subsurface is a necessary prerequisite to exploring possible remedial solutions. These factors include the partitioning processes that govern the distribution of contaminant species between the aqueous phase, the solid phase (including adsorption onto soil particle surfaces), the gas phase, and, in some cases, nonaqueous phase liquids. Chemical and biological transformation processes also impact the behavior of different types of subsurface contaminants. The designs of passive and active groundwater remediation approaches often reflect consideration of one or more of these factors; however, the efficacy of most methods is often most closely dependent upon the physical characteristics of the subsurface environment, such as the distribution of hydraulic conductivity.


  • groundwater contamination;
  • chlorinated solvents;
  • fuel hydrocarbons;
  • heavy metals;
  • radionuclides;
  • groundwater remediation;
  • natural attenuation