Bioretention cells are increasingly popular in low-impact development as a means to sustainably mitigate the environmental problems associated with stormwater runoff. Yet, much remains to be known regarding the removal and ultimate fate of pollutants such as petroleum hydrocarbons in bioretention cells. In this work, laboratory-scale bioretention cells were constructed inside sealed glass columns. The columns were periodically spiked with 14C-naphthalene over a 5-month period and the fate of this representative hydrocarbon and the influence of vegetation on naphthalene fate was studied. Three column setups were used: one planted with a legume (Purple Prairie Clover, Dalea purpureum), one planted with grass (Blue-Joint Grass, Calamagrostis canadensis), and one unplanted (i.e., control). Overall naphthalene removal efficiency was 93% for the planted columns and 78% for the control column. Adsorption to soil was the dominant naphthalene removal mechanism (56–73% of added naphthalene), although mineralization (12–18%) and plant uptake (2–23%) were also important. Volatilization was negligible (<0.04%). Significant enrichment of naphthalene-degrading bacteria occurred due to contaminant exposure and plant growth as evidenced by increased biodegradation activity and increased naphthalene dioxygenase gene concentrations in the bioretention media. This research suggests that bioretention is a viable solution for sustainable petroleum hydrocarbon removal from stormwater, and that vegetation can enhance overall performance and stimulate biodegradation.
Number of Pages
Environmental Science & Technology
Minnesota Water Research Digital Library
Do Not Have Copyright Permission