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Compound-Specific Factors Influencing Sorption Nonlinearity in Natural Organic Matter

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journal contribution
posted on 15.08.2008, 00:00 by Satoshi Endo, Peter Grathwohl, Stefan B. Haderlein, Torsten C. Schmidt
Nonlinear sorption by natural organic matter may have a significant impact on the behavior of organic contaminants in soils and sediments. This study presents a molecular probe approach based on linear solvation energy relationships (LSERs) to identify and quantify the molecular interactions causing concentration-dependent sorption and proposes estimation methods for sorption nonlinearities. Sorption isotherms ranging over concentrations of more than 4 orders of magnitude were determined in batch systems for 23 and 16 chemically diverse probe compounds in a lignite sample and a peat soil, respectively. Each sorbent showed characteristic nonlinear sorption with Freundlich exponents (1/n) being 0.7−1. The LSER-based analysis revealed that the strength of nonspecific interactions did not vary with concentration for both sorbents. In lignite, specific interactions did not affect sorption nonlinearity either, suggesting that compound-independent factors of lignite were responsible for the nonlinear sorption. In the peat soil, by contrast, the specific interactions related to the solute polarizability/dipolarity parameter (S) decreased with increasing concentration. Consequently, compounds of higher S values were more susceptible to nonlinear sorption in the peat soil. Phenol probes have shown that hydrogen bond donating properties of sorbate compounds have a substantial impact on the overall strength of sorption with organic matter, but no significant influence on sorption nonlinearity. Heterocyclic aromatic compounds appear to undergo additional interactions that are not accounted for by the LSER. These additional interactions considerably enhance both sorption capacity and nonlinearity.