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Duke University

Superfund Research Program

Microbial and Photolytic Transformations of Superfund Chemicals

Project Leader: Andrew J. Schuler
Co-Investigator: Karl G. Linden (University of Colorado, Boulder)
Grant Number: P42ES010356
Funding Period: 2000-2011

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Project Summary (2005-2011)

The broad objective of this project is to elucidate the separate and combined effects of microbial and photolytic processes on transformations of target Superfund chemicals, with applications to gaining a better understanding of natural transformation processes at existing Superfund sites and to developing improved systems for remediation. These chemicals include organophosphate pesticides (chlorpyrifos, parathion, and diazonon) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (fluorene and its heterocyclic analogs carbazole, dibenzofuran, and dibenzothiophene; fluoranthene; and benzo[a]pyrene). This work is yielding important information regarding the fundamental processes affecting toxic exposures in natural systems, and it includes the development of new strategies for decreasing these exposures through improved remediation systems. The objectives of this project are as follows:

  1. Assess the separate photolytic and microbial isolate transformations of individual target Superfund chemicals.
  2. Determine photolytic and microbial transformation effects on toxicity and identify intermediates of interest.
  3. Assess biodegradability of photolytic intermediates and photodegradability of biodegradation intermediates.
  4. Evaluate influence of physical, chemical, and biological factors on microbial and photolytic degradation, including mixture effects.
  5. Develop and evaluate novel remediation technologies based on an innovative combination of photolytic, oxidative, and microbial transformation processes.

This work interfaces strongly with the other Projects in this program through its focus on the same OPs and PAHs, and through its use of their toxicity assays to assess the toxicity of photolytic and microbial intermediates.

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