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Fraction of organic carbon predicts labile desorption rates of chlorinated organic pollutants in laboratory-spiked geosorbents



The resuspension of large volumes of sediments that are contaminated with chlorinated pollutants continues to threaten environmental quality and human health. Whereas kinetic models are more accurate for estimating the environmental impact of these events, their widespread use is substantially hampered by the need for costly, time-consuming, site-specific kinetics experiments. The present study investigated the development of a predictive model for desorption rates from easily measurable sorbent and pollutant properties by examining the relationship between the fraction of organic carbon (fOC) and labile release rates. Duplicate desorption measurements were performed on 46 unique combinations of pollutants and sorbents with fOC values ranging from 0.001 to 0.150. Labile desorption rate constants indicate that release rates predominantly depend upon the fOC in the geosorbent. Previous theoretical models, such as the macro-mesopore and organic matter (MOM) diffusion model, have predicted such a relationship but could not accurately predict the experimental rate constants collected in the present study. An empirical model was successfully developed to correlate the labile desorption rate constant (krap) to the fraction of organic material where log(krap) = 0.291−0.785 · log(fOC). These results provide the first experimental evidence that kinetic pollution releases during resuspension events are governed by the fOC content in natural geosorbents. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 2010;29:1049–1055. © 2010 SETAC