Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020NJ027B

Effects of Microbubble Formation on Sediment Pollutant Resuspension

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-03-01 End Date: 2021-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,874

Principal Investigators: Xiaonan Shi

Abstract: Persistent environmental pollutants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heavy metals (e.g., Cu Fe, Pb, and Zn) accumulate in the depositional zones of rivers and lakes from current and past releases. They have wide environmental distribution in water and sediment and bioaccumulation in organisms, which pose serious ecological and human health impacts. Despite the implementation of stringent controls and regulation of waste disposal and release, considerable amounts of persistent environmental pollutants that accumulated in sediment may still release at the sediment-water interface. Particularly, bubble-facilitated contaminant transport is one of the most important processes or causes of pollutant release and resuspension. Microbubbles (MBs) are generally defined as gaseous bubbles with diameter typically between 10 and 100 μm. Microbubbles could form usually because of microbial metabolisms that lead to production of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and hydrogen (H2). Due to the disturbance from bubble ebullition, sediment pollutants may rise to the water-sediment interface and begin to partition to water phase. However, not many past studies to date systematically examined the MBs-facilitated organic and metal contaminant emission in benthic sediment environment. To address this knowledge gap, we will measure organic and metal contaminant release due to the bubbling process in soil columns and determine the factors (e.g., bubble flux and bubble types) for the pollutant release. This project will be of interest to federal/state regulators, water conservation, remediation industries, research communities, and the public. The project will deliver new data on the fate of persistent pollutants in sediment and water columns and will support the development of effective risk mitigation and management plans accordingly.