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LFERs for Soil Organic Carbon−Water Distribution Coefficients (KOC) at Environmentally Relevant Sorbate Concentrations

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journal contribution
posted on 01.05.2009, 00:00 by Satoshi Endo, Peter Grathwohl, Stefan B. Haderlein, Torsten C. Schmidt
Organic carbon−water distribution coefficients, KOC, for organic compounds at environmentally relevant, low sorbate concentrations may substantially differ from those at higher concentrations due to nonlinear sorption to soil organic matter. However, prediction methods for KOC such as linear free energy relationships (LFERs) are currently only available for high sorbate concentrations (i.e., near solubility limits), reflecting the lack of a set of consistent experimental data in an environmentally more relevant concentration range (i.e., orders of magnitude lower than solubilities). In this study, we determined KOC for two model sorbents of soil organic matter, peat and lignite, at sorbate concentrations of 4.3 and 19 mg/kg-organic-carbon, respectively, in batch suspensions. The measured KOC values for organic sorbates (51 for peat, 58 for lignite) of varying sizes and polarities were modeled successfully with polyparameter linear free energy relationships (PP-LFERs). The resulting PP-LFER for peat was significantly different from the PP-LFERs in the literature determined at near aqueous solubility limits of sorbates. The literature PP-LFERs were found to underestimate the measured KOC values for peat at the low concentration by up to 1 order of magnitude. The extent of underestimation highly depends on the sorbate properties and can be explained by differing sorption nonlinearities of the sorbates as predicted by a reported empirical relationship between the nonlinearity in peat and the sorbate dipolarity/polarizability parameter S. Lignite appears to be a stronger sorbent toward many sorbates than typical soil organic matter irrespective of the concentration range and thus may not be representative for organic matter with regard to the magnitude of KOC. The present study offers the first PP-LFER equation for log KOC in soil organic matter at typical environmental sorbate concentrations.