Detailed analytical characterization of the organic matter (OM) of aged polluted soils from five former manufactured gas plants (MGP) and of two coal tars was completed. It was aimed at obtaining information relevant to the physicochemical state of the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) pollutants and to their in-situ evolution in time. Overall characterization of total OM (essentially polluting OM) was carried out directly on soil samples with or without prior extraction with solvent. It involved a technique of pyrolysis/oxidation coupled to flame ionization/thermal conductivity detection (Rock Eval). Extracts in solvent were fractionated by liquid chromatography into saturated hydrocarbons, PAH, and resins, the first two fractions being further characterized by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. The compositions of OM of soils were found to be very similar. A total of 28% of organic carbon, including all PAH, was extractable by solvent. The compositions of coal tars were qualitatively similar to those of OM of MGP soils but with a higher proportion (48%) of total extractable OM and of PAH, in particular lower PAH. Contamination of MGP soils appeared essentially as coal tar having undergone natural attenuation. The constant association of PAH with heavy OM in MGP soils is important with respect to the mobility and bioaccessibility of these pollutants.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry