Evolution of humic acids during ex situ bioremediation on a pilot level – an added value of the microbial activity

Aleksandra N. Žerađanin, Jelena Avdalović, Marija Lješević, Olivera Tešić, Srdjan Miletić, Miroslav M. Vrvić, Vladimir Beškoski


Environmental pollution is a global problem, while bioremediation technology removes pollutants from the environment using microorganisms. This study aimed to investigate how a bioremediation process affected soil humification. In soil polluted with petroleum and its derivatives that was submitted to bioremediation, besides total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) and number of microorganisms, quantitative and qualitative changes of isolated humic acids were determined during the process. Bioremediation of 150 m3 of polluted soil lasted for 150 days. TPH decreased by 86.6 %, while the level of humic acids increased by 26.5 %. The elemental analysis showed the reduction of C and the H/C ratio and the increase of O and the O/C ratio of isolated humic acids during the process. The ratio of absorbances at 465 and 665 nm (E4/E6) also increased. Based on this and the Fourier-transform infrared spectra, it was shown that the humic acids isolated at the end of bioremediation were enriched with oxygen functional groups and aromatic structures. This study provides one of the first insights into the relationship between bioremediation and humification, as well as evidence of how hydrocarbon-degrading microorganisms have a significant influence on changes to humic acid structure during bioremediation.


remediation; humification; total petroleum hydrocarbons

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.2298/JSC190916131Z

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