Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2019NJ182B

Integrative system approach to investigate the effect of contaminant mixtures in the efficiency of bioremediation processes

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2019 Start Date: 2019-06-01 End Date: 2020-05-31
Total Federal Funds: $20,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $88,539

Principal Investigators: Lucia Rodriguez-Freire

Abstract: Environmental contamination is usually made of complex mixtures of metals and organic compounds. Furthermore, these contaminants can interact with indigenous mineral phases and organic matter, a unique microbiome, and local vegetation. Bioremediation of mixed contaminated sites depends on the comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms for metal-organic contaminant interaction, their effect and reaction on biological systems, and their association with mineral and organic phases. In particular, wetlands are heavy metal accumulators and organic contaminants degraders in the environment, due to their specific biogeochemical processes enhanced by high organic matter and nutrient content. New Jersey leads the list of number of Superfund sites per state, with 114 listed sites, and 15% of New Jersey’s land is wetlands. The proposed work will focus on the Ringwood/Ford Superfund site where soil and water are contaminated mainly with lead, arsenic, chloroethane, benzene and 1,4-dioxane. This site is in the lands of the Ramapough Lenape Nation Turtle Clan community in the Borough of Ringwood, Country of Passaic, New Jersey. The overarching goal of this project will be to provide a comprehensive understanding of the physico-chemical and biological mechanisms controlling the fate and transport of the contaminants in the environment. Field studies will be complemented with hydroponic and greenhouse experiments in which we will use a combination of molecular ecology, water chemistry, spectroscopic and microscopic techniques to investigate the physical, chemical, and biological processes controlling the speciation, mobility, bioavailability, degradation and phytoaccumulation of contaminants in freshwater wetlands impacted by legacy contamination. The proposed work will provide a holistic understanding of the fate and transformation of mixture of contaminants within the various environmental compartments in a wetland, and it will inform future remediation strategies and exposure prevention alternatives.