Chlorinated Solvents Contamination
USGS scientist collecting a sample for analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOC). Water flowed through the multiparameter sonde (left) for measurement of field parameters (circa 1992) -- from the Picatinny Arsenal Site
Bibliography 304 Publications
Chlorinated solvents have properties that make them useful for degreasing fats, oils, waxes, and resins. They are used widely and have been manufactured in large quantities. Some chlorinated solvents are dichloromethane, tetrachloroethene, trichloroethane, and tricholoroethene. The U.S. production of these compounds in 1980 were 255,000, 347,000, 314,000, and 121,000 metric tons, respectively.
Chlorinated solvents in general are harmful to human and ecological health. They can cause or are suspected of causing cancer, and are toxic or harmful to aquatic organisms.
Spills and leaks of chlorinated solvents have caused widespread subsurface contamination in the environment. Commonly these contaminants are present in the subsurface in the form of non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPL, the bulk chemical product), as dissolved contaminants in ground water, associated with aquifer sediments, and as vapors in the unsaturated zone. Because the density of these NAPL’s is greater than water, they tend to sink in ground water systems, which results in a complex dispersal and plume patterns, long-term sources in the subsurface, and difficult clean-up. Under the proper conditions, biodegradation and volatilization can contribute significantly to the removal of chlorinated solvents from the subsurface, making natural attenuation a potentially important remediation alternative.
The project activities undertaken fall into 2 general categories: Plume-scale research at representative contamination sites, and research on microbial degradation pathways for chlorinated solvents. More information is provided on these activities as follows:
Plume-Scale Research at Representative Contamination Sites
Chlorinated Solvents in Fractured
Sedimentary Rock -- Naval Air Warfare Center (NAWC) Research Site, West Trenton, New
Field Investigation of Natural Attenuation of
Chlorinated Solvents -- Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey
Microbial Degradation Pathways for Chlorinated Solvents
Microbial Degradation of
Chloroethenes in Ground Water Systems
Application of Molecular Methods in
Microbial Ecology to Understand the Natural Attenuation of Chlorinated Solvents
Program Science Feature Articles on Chlorinated Solvents Contamination
- A fractured rock geophysical toolbox method selection tool: Day-Lewis, F.D., Johnson, C.D., Slater, L.D., Robinson, J.L., Williams, J.H., Boyden, C.L., Werkema, D., and Lane, J.W., 2016, Groundwater - Technology Spotlight, doi:10.1111/gwat.12397 (Advanced Web release -- More information on the FRGT-MST tool).
- Tracing the cycling and fate of the explosive 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene in coastal marine systems with a stable isotopic tracer, 15N-[TNT]: Smith, R.W., Vlahos, P., Böhlke, J.K., Ariyarathna, T., Ballentine, M., Cooper, C., Fallis, S., Groshens, T.J., and Tobias, C., 2015, Environmental Science and Technology, doi:10.1021/acs.est.5b02907 (Advanced Web release).
- Interpretation of hydraulic conductivity in a fractured-rock aquifer over increasingly larger length dimensions: Shapiro, A., Ladderud, J., and Yager, R., 2015, Hydrogeology Journal, p. 1-21, doi:10.1007/s10040-015-1285-7.
- Imaging pathways in fractured rock using three-dimensional electrical resistivity tomography: Robinson, J., Slater, L., Johnson, T., Shapiro, A., Tiedeman, C., Ntarlagiannis, D., Johnson, C., Day-Lewis, F., Lacombe, P., Imbrigiotta, T., and Lane, J., 2015, Groundwater, doi:10.1111/gwat.12356 (Advanced Web release).
- Abiotic dechlorination in rock matrices impacted by long-term exposure to TCE: Schaefer, C.E., Towne, R.M., Lippincott, D.R., Lacombe, P.J., Bishop, M.E., and Dong, H., 2015, Chemosphere, v. 119, p. 744-749, doi:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.08.005.