Desorption kinetics of hydrophobic organic chemicals from sediment to water: a review of data and models

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Resuspension of contaminated sediment can lead to the release of toxic compounds to surface waters where they are more bioavailable and mobile. Because the timeframe of particle resettling during such events is shorter than that needed to reach equilibrium, a kinetic approach is required for modeling the release process. Due to the current inability of common theoretical approaches to predict site-specific release rates, empirical algorithms incorporating the phenomenological assumption of biphasic, or fast and slow, release dominate the descriptions of nonpolar organic chemical release in the literature. Two first-order rate constants and one fraction are sufficient to characterize practically all of the data sets studied. These rate constants were compared to theoretical model parameters and functionalities, including chemical properties of the contaminants and physical properties of the sorbents, to determine if the trends incorporated into the hindered diffusion model are consistent with the parameters used in curve fitting. The results did not correspond to the parameter dependence of the hindered diffusion model. No trend in desorption rate constants, for either fast or slow release, was observed to be dependent on K(OC) or aqueous solubility for six and seven orders of magnitude, respectively. The same was observed for aqueous diffusivity and sediment fraction organic carbon. The distribution of kinetic rate constant values was approximately log-normal, ranging from 0.1 to 50 d(-1) for the fast release (average approximately 5 d(-1)) and 0.0001 to 0.1 d(-1) for the slow release (average approximately 0.03 d(-1)). The implications of these findings with regard to laboratory studies, theoretical desorption process mechanisms, and water quality modeling needs are presented and discussed.

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Environmental toxicology and chemistry

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