Interaction of phenanthrene and its primary metabolite (1-hydroxy-2- naphthoic acid) with estuarine sediments and humic fractions

Sanjai J. Parikh, Jon Chorover, William D. Burgos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Experiments were conducted to compare the sorption and desorption of phenanthrene and its primary degradation product, 1-hydroxy-2-naphthoic acid (HNA), in estuarine sediment, humic acid (HA) and humin. Ionic composition, ionic strength (0.4 M) and pH (7.6) were employed to mimic native estuarine pore water at the sediment-water interface. Sorption to whole sediment and organic matter (OM) fractions was significantly lower for HNA than for phenanthrene. Whereas HNA did not sorb to HA, uptake to sediment and humin was observed, suggesting that HNA does not bind directly to OM. Phenanthrene uptake was characterized by hysteretic behavior and exhibited slow desorption. In contrast, HNA initially was more readily desorbed from sediment and humic fractions, but a significant fraction was not recovered in repeated desorption runs. The lower sorption of HNA reflects its greater polarity and water solubility, but the consistent retention of a non-desorbing fraction suggests strong binding and/or chemical transformation reactions may be important. It was postulated that abiotic transformation of HNA may occur in estuarine sediments, in part due to the presence of redox active minerals (Fe(III) and Mn(IV) oxides). The presence of Fe and Mn solids in the estuarine sediment was verified by sequential extraction and studies were then conducted to investigate the transformation of HNA in the presence of synthetic goethite (α-FeOOH) and birnessite (δ-MnO2) as model solids. Reaction with birnessite led to transformation of all HNA in solution within 24 h and resulted in the formation of partial oxidation products (POPs). Following reaction with goethite, HNA was present in solution and POPs were observed in the weakly bound fraction. This study indicates that degradation products of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) may have distinctly different sorption affinities and reactivities toward environmental surfaces than their parent compounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Humic acid
  • Humin
  • Hydroxynaphthoic acid
  • Oxidative transformation
  • Phenanthrene
  • Sediment
  • Sorption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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