Project 5 ? Remediation in Sediments Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are commonly encountered organic chemical pollutants of concern at Superfund sites, which are often found in river and lake sediments near areas of industrial and commercial activity. The Iowa Superfund Research Program (ISRP) has shown that airborne PCB emissions from open water associated with contaminated sediment sources could pose significant inhalation risk to nearby populations. Project 5 research is based on the critical need to develop, evaluate, and demonstrate innovative approaches to disrupt the flux of PCBs from sediments to the atmosphere at Superfund sites. Project 5?s central hypothesis is that black carbon materials containing PCB-degrading biofilms will enhance aerobic biodegradation of LC-PCBs in contaminated sediments, thereby decreasing their emission into the atmosphere. Our hypothesis is based on preliminary studies showing that bioaugmentation of aerobic PCB- degrading bacteria into soils catalyzes improved biodegradation of certain LC-PCB congeners. We also show that aerobic PCB-degrading bacteria form biofilms on black carbon materials, indicating their potential as delivery vehicles for introducing PCB-degrading bacteria into sediments. Guided by these preliminary data, we will test our central hypothesis by: 1) optimizing tailored black carbon materials with sorptive and reactive properties toward LC-PCBs and the ability to host aerobic PCB-degrading biofilms; 2) evaluating the performance of black carbon materials containing aerobic PCB-degrading biofilms to lower LC-PCB concentrations in water and air under relevant environmental conditions; and 3) scaling up production of biofilm-coated black carbon materials to demonstrate the feasibility of decreasing airborne PCB flux from contaminated sediments at the mesocosm-scale. Our work will rely on the support of ISRP cores for synthesis and analytical assessment of PCBs in study samples. The proposed research is innovative because the relationship between the removal of LC-PCB congeners from sediments and PCB emissions has not been studied. There are currently no developed or tested biotechnologies to decrease or prevent airborne PCB emissions from sediments. Our project is relevant to the SRP mandates because we will develop advanced methods to decrease the amount and toxicity of PCBs in the environment. Outcomes of this project will benefit human health by reducing human exposure to airborne PCBs and realize economic benefits by demonstrating breakthrough alternative PCB remediation approaches that minimize expensive and disruptive measures such as dredging.

Public Health Relevance

Project 5 ? Remediation in Sediments Project 5 of the Iowa Superfund Research Program will develop and optimize novel sorptive and reactive black carbon materials and test them as delivery vehicles for aerobic PCB-degrading microorganisms under environmentally relevant conditions (e.g., low and variable dissolved oxygen concentrations, and variable salinity and temperature). We will demonstrate that the best performing combinations of black carbon materials and microorganisms can effectively decrease airborne PCB emissions from contaminated sediments and thus lessen human exposure to PCBs by inhalation in communities located near Superfund sites. Therefore, the proposed research is pertinent to the goals of the Superfund Research Program by developing advanced methods to reduce the amount and toxicity of PCBs in the environment.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Hazardous Substances Basic Research Grants Program (NIEHS) (P42)
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University of Iowa
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