Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon contamination in soils and sediments: Sustainable approaches for extraction and remediation

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Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are carcinogenic environmental pollutants that are extremely hydrophobic in nature and resistant to biological degradation. Extraction of PAHs from environmental matrices is the first and most crucial step in PAH quantification. Extraction followed by quantification is essential to understand the extent of contamination prior to the application of remediation approaches. Due to their non-polar structures, PAHs can be adsorbed tightly to the organic matter in soils and sediments, making them more difficult to be extracted. Extraction of PAHs can be achieved by a variety of methods. Techniques such as supercritical and subcritical fluid extraction, microwave-assisted solvent extraction, plant oil-assisted extraction and some microextraction techniques provide faster PAH extraction using less organic solvents, while providing a more environmentally friendly and safer process with minimum matrix interferences. More recently, more environmentally friendly methods for soil and sediment remediation have been explored. This often involves using natural chemicals, such as biosurfactants, to solubilize PAHs in contaminated soils and sediments to allow subsequent microbial degradation. Vermiremediation and microbial enzyme-mediated remediation are emerging approaches, which require further development. The following summarises the existing literature on traditional PAH extraction and bioremediation methods and contrasts them to newer, more environmentally friendly ways.

Original languageEnglish
Article number132981
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue numberPart 3
Early online date23 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


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