Removal of PCBs in contaminated soils by means of chemical reduction and advanced oxidation processes

V. Rybnikova, M. Usman, K. Hanna*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Although the chemical reduction and advanced oxidation processes have been widely used individually, very few studies have assessed the combined reduction/oxidation approach for soil remediation. In the present study, experiments were performed in spiked sand and historically contaminated soil by using four synthetic nanoparticles (Fe0, Fe/Ni, Fe3O4, Fe3 − xNixO4). These nanoparticles were tested firstly for reductive transformation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and then employed as catalysts to promote chemical oxidation reactions (H2O2 or persulfate). Obtained results indicated that bimetallic nanoparticles Fe/Ni showed the highest efficiency in reduction of PCB28 and PCB118 in spiked sand (97 and 79 %, respectively), whereas magnetite (Fe3O4) exhibited a high catalytic stability during the combined reduction/oxidation approach. In chemical oxidation, persulfate showed higher PCB degradation extent than hydrogen peroxide. As expected, the degradation efficiency was found to be limited in historically contaminated soil, where only Fe0 and Fe/Ni particles exhibited reductive capability towards PCBs (13 and 18 %). In oxidation step, the highest degradation extents were obtained in presence of Fe0 and Fe/Ni (18–19 %). The increase in particle and oxidant doses improved the efficiency of treatment, but overall degradation extents did not exceed 30 %, suggesting that only a small part of PCBs in soil was available for reaction with catalyst and/or oxidant. The use of organic solvent or cyclodextrin to improve the PCB availability in soil did not enhance degradation efficiency, underscoring the strong impact of soil matrix. Moreover, a better PCB degradation was observed in sand spiked with extractable organic matter separated from contaminated soil. In contrast to fractions with higher particle size (250–500 and <500 μm), no PCB degradation was observed in the finest fraction (≤250 μm) having higher organic matter content. These findings may have important practical implications to promote successively reduction and oxidation reactions in soils and understand the impact of soil properties on remediation performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17035-17048
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Iron nanoparticles
  • Oxidation
  • PCBs
  • Reductive transformation
  • Soil

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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