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Abstract

A laboratory column technique was developed to measure retardation factors (Rf) of volatile organic compounds (VOC) using geological material obtained from an outwash aquifer. The site is a former solvent disposal pit near Ottawa, Canada. The experimental column was designed as a closed system from introduction of the sample to the collection and analysis of effluent samples to prevent loss through volatilization of the VOCs. The retardation of the volatile compounds 1,4-dioxane, tetrahydrofuran, diethyl ether, 1,2-dichloroethane, chloroform, 1,1-dichloroethene, and benzene was measured. The centers of mass of both the contaminant and conservative tracer breakthrough curves were compared to determine Rf. The measured Rf values ranged from 1.1 (1,4-dioxane) to 14.3 (benzene) compared with values of 1.6 and 8.8 derived from contaminant plume lengths. Considering the uncertainty of the disposal history at the site, the values are of reasonable agreement in comparison.