Soil Science Society of America

Field-scale cleanup of atrazine and cyanazine contaminated soil with a combined chemical-biological approach

A former agrichemical dealership in western Nebraska was suspected of having contaminated soil. Our objective was to characterize and remediate the contaminated site by a combined chemical-biological approach. This was accomplished by creating contour maps of the on-site contamination, placing the top 60 cm of contaminated soil in windrows and mixing with a mechanical high-speed mixer. Homogenized soil containing both atrazine [6-chloro-N-ethyl-N'-isopropyl-1,3,5-triazine-2,4-diamine] and cyanazine {2-[[4-chloro-6-(ethylamino)-1,3,5-triazin-2-yl] amino]-2-methylpropanenitrile} was then used in laboratory investigations to determine optimum treatments for pesticide destruction. Iron suspension experiments verified that zerovalent iron (Fe0) plus ferrous sulfate (FeSO4•7H2O) removed more than 90% of both atrazine and cyanazine within 14 d. Liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) analysis of the atrazine solution after treating with Fe0 and ferrous sulfate identified several degradation products commonly associated with biodegradation (i.e., deethlyatrazine (DEA), deisopropylatrazine (DIA), hydroxyatrazine (HA), and ammelines). Biological treatment evaluated emulsified soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] oil (EOS) as a carbon source to stimulate biodegradation in static soil microcosms. Combining emulsified soybean oil with the chemical amendments resulted in higher destruction efficiencies (80–85%) and reduced the percentage of FeSO4 needed. This chemical-biological treatment (Fe0 + FeSO4 + EOS, EOS Remediation, Raleigh, NC) was then applied with water to 275 m3 of contaminated soil in the field. Windrows were tightly covered with clear plastic to increase soil temperature and maintain soil water content. Temporal sampling (0–342 d) revealed atrazine and cyanazine concentrations decreased by 79 to 91%. These results provide evidence that a combined chemical-biological approach can be used for on-site, field-scale treatment of pesticide-contaminated soil.

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