In situ stimulation of aerobic PCB biodegradation in Hudson River sediments

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Science  22 Jan 1993:
Vol. 259, Issue 5094, pp. 503-507
DOI: 10.1126/science.8424172


A 73-day field study of in situ aerobic biodegradation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in the Hudson River shows that indigenous aerobic microorganisms can degrade the lightly chlorinated PCBs present in these sediments. Addition of inorganic nutrients, biphenyl, and oxygen enhanced PCB biodegradation, as indicated both by a 37 to 55 percent loss of PCBs and by the production of chlorobenzoates, intermediates in the PCB biodegradation pathway. Repeated inoculation with a purified PCB-degrading bacterium failed to improve biodegradative activity. Biodegradation was also observed under mixed but unamended conditions, which suggests that this process may occur commonly in river sediments, with implications for PCB fate models and risk assessments.