Stabilization of hydrophobic organic contaminants in sediments by natural zeolites: bioavailability-based assessment of efficacy using equilibrium passive sampling

Yiqin Chen, Wenjian Yu, Ling Jin, Qian Wang, Jie Yin, Jianwei Lin, Juan Ying Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

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Purpose: As natural zeolites have been widely used as cost-effective adsorbents for plant nutrients and heavy metals in sediments, it is worthwhile to verify the potential of natural zeolites for mixed-contaminant stabilization including hydrophobic organic contaminants (HOCs). The effectiveness of natural zeolite amendment in sediment on reducing the bioaccumulation of sediment-associated HOCs in V. philippinaram (Cb) was assessed. Then, the role of sediment pore water freely dissolved HOCs (Cfree) in Cb prediction was further identified and modeled. Materials and methods: In this study, a bioavailability-based assessment of the HOC-stabilization efficacy of natural zeolites in maricultural sediments was performed using equilibrium passive sampling. V. philippinaram was adopted as a biological indicator for HOC bioaccumulation. Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) was used as a passive sampler for monitoring the concentration of the Cfree. The assumption that Cfree is a central mediator driving the bioaccumulation process of HOCs from the bulk sediment to the exposed organisms was validated by correlating the reductions in Cb and Cfree of the sediments amended with natural zeolites. Subsequently, a model based on this assumption was built and verified for the bioavailability-based assessment of the stabilization efficacy of natural zeolite amendment on sediment-associated HOCs. Results and discussion: The results showed the bioaccumulations of four kinds of HOCs (including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, pyrethroids, and organochlorine pesticides) in V. philippinaram were reduced by 7.3–38% after the natural zeolite amendment (10% dry weight in sediments), and the Cfree values measured with PDMS were reduced proportionally. It supported the assumption that Cfree is a central mediator driving the bioaccumulation process of HOCs. Kow of HOCs and two properties of sediment were found to be significantly correlated with the reductions of the Cfree values. Based on these findings, a model to predict the Cb values of PAHs and PBDEs in V. philippinaram was built. The model was then verified by a significant correlation between the predicted and measured values of Cb. Conclusions: The potential of natural zeolites for the stabilization of mixed-contaminants in sediments, including HOCs, was proved as notable reductions of Cb and Cfree of HOCs in the sediments amended by natural zeolite were observed. The results also suggested PDMS is a promising tool for predicting the bioaccumulation of sediment-associated HOCs in V. philippinaram and further for assessing the stabilization efficacy of natural zeolites in maricultural sediments. Modifying natural zeolites to further improve the effectiveness of HOC stabilization is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3898-3907
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Soils and Sediments
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Equilibrium passive sampling
  • Freely dissolved concentration
  • Hydrophobic organic contaminants
  • Maricultural sediment
  • Natural zeolite
  • Stabilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Stratigraphy

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