Terrestrial crude oil spills compromise a soil’s ability to provide ecosystem services by inhibiting plant life and threatening groundwater integrity. Ozone gas, a powerful oxidant, shows promise to aid in…
Terrestrial crude oil spills compromise a soil’s ability to provide ecosystem services by inhibiting plant life and threatening groundwater integrity. Ozone gas, a powerful oxidant, shows promise to aid in soil recovery by degrading petroleum hydrocarbons into more bioavailable and biodegradable chemicals. However, previous research has shown that ozone can change the soil pH and create harmful organic compounds.
The research objective was to determine the short-term ecological toxicity of ozonation byproducts on seed germination of three distinct plant types (radish, lettuce, and grass) compared to untreated and uncontaminated soils. We hypothesize that the reduction of heavy hydrocarbon contamination in soil by ozone application will provide more suitable habitat for the germinating seeds. The effect of ozone treatment on seed germination and seedling quality was measured using ASTM standards for early seedling growth in conjunction with a gradient of potting soil amendments. Ozonation parameters were measured using established methods and include total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and pH.
This study demonstrated the TPH levels fall up to 22% with ozonation, suggesting TPH removal is related to the amount of ozone delivered as opposed to the type of crude oil present. The DOC values increase comparably across crude oil types as the ozonation dose increases (from a background level of 0.25 g to 6.2 g/kg dry soil at the highest ozone level), suggesting that DOC production is directly related to the amount of ozone, not crude oil type. While ozonation reduced the mass of heavy hydrocarbons in the soil, it increased the amount of ozonation byproducts in the soil. For the three types of seeds used in the study, these changes in concentrations of TPH and DOC affected the species differently; however, no seed type showed improved germination after ozone treatment. Thus, ozone treatment by itself had a negative impact on germination potential.
Future research should focus on the effects of post-ozonation, long-term bioremediation on eco-toxicity. By helping define the eco-toxicity of ozonation techniques, this research can improve upon previously established ozone techniques for petroleum remediation and provide economic and environmental benefits when used for soil treatment.