Field demonstration of N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) treatment in groundwater using propane biosparging.


Biotechnology Development and Applications Group, Aptim Federal Services, Lawrenceville, NJ, United States. Electronic address: [Email]


N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) is found in groundwater and drinking water from industrial, agricultural, water treatment, and military/aerospace sources, and it must often be treated to part-per-trillion (ng/L) concentrations. The most effective remedial technology for NDMA in groundwater is pump-and-treat with ultraviolet irradiation (UV), but this approach is expensive because it requires ex situ infrastructure and high energy input. The objective of this project was to evaluate an in situ biological treatment approach for NDMA. Previous laboratory studies have revealed that propane-oxidizing bacteria are capable of biodegrading NDMA from μg/L to low ng/L concentrations (Fournier et al., 2009; Webster et al., 2013). During this field study, air and propane gas were sparged into an NDMA-contaminated aquifer for more than 1 year. Groundwater samples were collected throughout the study from a series of monitoring wells within, downgradient, and sidegradient of the zone of influence of the biosparge system. Over the course of the study, NDMA concentrations declined by 99.7% to >99.9% in the four monitoring wells within the zone of influence of the biosparge system, reaching low ng/L concentrations whereas the control well declined by only 14%. Pseudo first-order degradation rate constants for NDMA in system monitoring wells ranged from ∼0.019 day -1 to 0.037 day -1 equating to half-lives ranging from 19 to 36 days. Native propanotrophs increased by more than one order of magnitude in the propane-impacted wells but not in the control well. The field data show for the first time that propane biosparging can be an effective in situ approach to reduce the concentrations of NDMA in a groundwater to ng/L concentrations.



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