• retardation factor;
  • hydrophobic organic contaminants;
  • colloids;
  • colloid-facilitated transport;
  • equilibrium model


In this study, a generalized contaminant retardation factor applicable to a multiphase system where various types of colloids exist simultaneously with contaminants is derived and incorporated into an equilibrium model which is successfully applied to experimental data for which phenanthrene was used as hydrophobic organic contaminants and dissolved organic matter (DOM) or bacteria as mobile carriers. Based on the parameter values for the experimental data regarding the association of phenanthrene with solid matrix, DOM and various bacterial isolates, numerical experiments are performed to examine the transport behaviour of hydrophobic organic contaminants in various types of the multiphase system. Numerical experiments demonstrate that the extent of contaminant transport enhancement depends on the adsorption affinity of the colloid, its concentration and its mobility, and that the importance of a third phase to contaminant transport needs to be evaluated carefully with respect to the relevance of experimental conditions applied to realistic environmental conditions. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.