Soil: A Natural Sink for Carbon Monoxide

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Science  18 Jun 1971:
Vol. 172, Issue 3989, pp. 1229-1231
DOI: 10.1126/science.172.3989.1229


A potting soil mixture depleted carbon monoxide in a test atmosphere from a concentration of 120 parts per million to near zero within 3 hours. Maximum activity occurred at 30°C. Steam sterilization of the soil, the addition of antibiotics or 10 percent (by weight) saline solution, and anaerobic conditions all prevented carbon monoxide uptake. Sterilized soil inoculated with nonsterile soil acquired activity with time. Samples of various natural soils differed in their ability to remove carbon monoxide from the air. Acidic soils with a high content of organic matter were generally the most active. The soil's ability to remove carbon monoxide from the atmosphere is ascribed to the activity of soil micro-organisms.