Remediation of soils and sediments polluted with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: To immobilize, mobilize, or degrade?

Manish Kumar, Nanthi S. Bolan, Son A. Hoang, Ankush D. Sawarkar, Tahereh Jasemizad, Bowen Gao, S. Keerthanan, Lokesh P. Padhye, Lal Singh, Sunil Kumar, Meththika Vithanage, Yang Li, Ming Zhang, M. B. Kirkham, Ajayan Vinu, Jörg Rinklebe

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129 Citations (Scopus)


Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are generated due to incomplete burning of organic substances. Use of fossil fuels is the primary anthropogenic cause of PAHs emission in natural settings. Although several PAH compounds exist in the natural environmental setting, only 16 of these compounds are considered priority pollutants. PAHs imposes several health impacts on humans and other living organisms due to their carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic properties. The specific characteristics of PAHs, such as their high hydrophobicity and low water solubility, influence their active adsorption onto soils and sediments, affecting their bioavailability and subsequent degradation. Therefore, this review first discusses various sources of PAHs, including source identification techniques, bioavailability, and interactions of PAHs with soils and sediments. Then this review addresses the remediation technologies adopted so far of PAHs in soils and sediments using immobilization techniques (capping, stabilization, dredging, and excavation), mobilization techniques (thermal desorption, washing, electrokinetics, and surfactant assisted), and biological degradation techniques. The pros and cons of each technology are discussed. A detailed systematic compilation of eco-friendly approaches used to degrade PAHs, such as phytoremediation, microbial remediation, and emerging hybrid or integrated technologies are reviewed along with case studies and provided prospects for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126534
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2021


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