Volatilization of contaminants from suspended sediment in a water column during dredging

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Remedial dredging of contaminated bed sediments in rivers and lakes results in the suspension of sediment solids in the water column, which can potentially be a source for evaporation of hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs) associated with the sediment solids. Laboratory experiments were conducted in an oscillating grid chamber to simulate the suspension of contaminated sediments and flux to air from the surface of the water column. A contaminated field sediment from Indiana Harbor Canal (IHC) and a laboratory-inoculated University Lake (UL) sediment, Baton Rouge, LA, were used in the experiments, where water and solids concentration and particle size distribution were measured in addition to contaminant fluxes to air. A transient model that takes into account contaminant desorption from sediment to water and evaporation from the water column was used to simulate water and sediment concentrations and air fluxes from the solids suspension. In experiments with both sediments, the total suspended solids (TSS) concentration and the average particle diameter of the suspended solids decreased with time. As expected, the evaporative losses were higher for compounds with higher vapor pressure and lower hydrophobicity. For the laboratory-inoculated sediment (UL), the water concentrations and air fluxes were high initially and decreased steadily implying that contaminant release to the water column from the suspended solids was rapid, followed by evaporative decay. For the field sediments (IHC), the fluxes and water concentrations increased initially and subsequently decreased steadily. This implied that the initial desorption to water was slow and that perhaps the presence of oil and grease and aging influenced the contaminant release. Comparison of the model and experimental data suggested that a realistic determination of the TSS concentration that can be input into the model was the most critical parameter for predicting air emission rates.

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Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association (1995)

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