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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Use of carbon stable isotopes to monitor biostimulation and electron donor fate in chromium-contaminated groundwater.

  • Author(s): Bill, Markus
  • Conrad, Mark E
  • Faybishenko, Boris
  • Larsen, Joern T
  • Geller, Jil T
  • Borglin, Sharon E
  • Beller, Harry R
  • et al.

Hexavalent chromium Cr(VI) is a common inorganic contaminant in industrial areas and represents a serious threat to human health due its toxicity. Here we report experimental results from a field-scale investigation of Cr(VI) bio-immobilization at Hanford 100H reservation, a U.S Department of Energy facility (Washington State, USA). Microbial Cr(VI) reduction was stimulated via injection of a13C-labeled sodium lactate solution into the high-permeability aquifer consisting of gravel and coarse sand sediments. Concentrations and carbon isotope ratios of metabolites, including dissolved inorganic carbon and total organic carbon, and compound-specific analysis of acetate and propionate, together with phospholipid fatty acids (biomass) have been analyzed to help provide an understanding of the predominant redox processes accompanying Cr(VI) reduction. Results of our study indicate that the injection of an electron donor caused a sharp decrease of Cr(VI) concentration from ∼32 to ∼10 nM. Cr(VI) reduction was associated with a decrease in the concentration of carboxylic acids, such as lactate (∼6 mM to undetectable), propionate (∼9 mM to undetectable), and acetate (∼6 mM to undetectable), as well as dissolved inorganic carbon (30-10 mM C). Carbon isotope data indicate carbon transfers from the original substrate to organic byproducts and mineralized carbon. Concentrations of metabolites and stable isotope data as well as carbon isotope mass balance calculations were used to monitor biologically mediated reduction of Cr(VI).

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