• Facilitated transport;
  • Soil column;
  • Dissolved organic matter


The effects of dissolved organic matter (DOM) on the transport of hydrophobic organic compounds in soil columns were investigated. Three compounds (naphthalene, phenanthrene and DDT) that spanned three orders of magnitude in water solubility were used. Instead of humic matter, molecularly well-defined DOM represented by Triton X-100, a nonionic industrial detergent, and bovine serum albumin protein were used. In batch isotherm studies, the sorption of naphthalene to both model DOMs appeared to be hydrophobic in nature and quantitatively similar to the binding to humic materials. Equations were derived to model the enhanced transport of organic compounds by DOM based on octanol/water partition coefficients, Kow. For a specific soil and DOM level, it was shown theoretically and experimentally that all organic compounds with Kow values above a specific value should move at the same rate in ground water. In some situations, DOM can increase the movement of highly hydrophobic compounds, such as DDT, by a factor of a thousand or more. This enhanced transport in the presence of DOM can either be a problem, as with ground water contaminant spreading, or a benefit, as with contaminated aquifer cleanup.