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Thermal removal of pyrene contamination from soil: basic studies and environmental health implications.

  • Saito, H H
  • Bucalá, V
  • Howard, J B
  • Peters, W A
Published Article
Environmental health perspectives
Publication Date
Aug 01, 1998
106 Suppl 4
PMID: 9703498


Effects of temperature (400-1000 degrees C) and rate of heating to 550 degrees C (100, 1000, 5000 degrees C/sec) on reduction of pyrene contamination in a Superfund-related soil and on yields of volatile products (tars, CO, CO2, methane, acetylene, ethylene) have been measured. Fifty (+/- 3)-milligram thin layers (less than or equal to 150 micron) of 63- to 125-micron soil particles, neat (i.e., without exogenous chemicals), or pretreated with 4.75 wt% of pyrene, were heated for about 1 to 6 sec, under 3 psig (pounds per in.(2) gauge) of helium in a 12-liter sealed chamber. Pyrene removal, defined as the difference in weight loss of neat versus contaminated soil, was virtually immune to heating rate but increased strongly with increasing temperature, approaching 100% at about 530 degrees C. However, for pyrenepolluted soil, excess soil weight loss and modified CO yields were observed above about 500 degrees C for a 1000 degrees C/sec heating rate. These observations suggest that soil chemical reactions with pyrene or pyrene decomposition products augment soil volatilization. Consequently at elevated temperatures, the difference in weight loss protocol may overestimate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) removal from soil. Increasing heating rate caused yields of CO, CO(2), and acetylene from pyrene-polluted soil to pass through maxima. Heating neat or contaminated soil resulted in at least two gaseous products of particular environmental interest:acetylene, a precursor to PAH in thermal synthesis, and CO, a toxin to human hemoglobin.

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