Surfactant solubilization and subsequent bioavailability of phenanthrene

Document Type



Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Shonali Laha

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Berrin Tansel

Third Advisor's Name

Laurie Richardson

Fourth Advisor's Name

Nii Attoh-Okine

Date of Defense



Contamination of soil, sediment and groundwater by hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs) is a matter of growing concern because groundwater is a valuable and limited resource, and because such contamination is difficult to address. This investigation involved an experimental evaluation of the addition of several surfactant solutions to aqueous and soil-water systems contaminated with phenanthrene, a selected HOC. The results are presented in terms of:

* phenanthrene solubilization achieved through surfactant addition

* observed effects of surfactant addition on the mineralization of phenanthrene

* estimation of relative toxicities of various surfactants using toxicity assays

* literature-reported biodegradability/persistence of selected surfactants

* surfactant sorption/precipitation onto soil and its impacts on proposed use of surfactant-amended remediation

Surfactants were observed to facilitate the transfer of phenanthrene from the soil-sorbed phase to the aqueous pseudophase, however, surfactant solubilization did not translate into enhanced phenanthrene biodegradation.



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