Author(s): Chen JH, Czajka DR, Lion LW, Shuler ML, Ghiorse WC
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Abstract Enhanced transport of trace metal in porous media can occur in the presence of a ligand or "carrier" that has a high affinity for binding the pollutant, is dispersed and mobile in the soil environment, is recalcitrant with respect to microbial degradation, and is acceptable to the public. These aspects of the facilitated transport to trace metals are discussed with respect to a naturally occurring carrier: extracellular polymers of bacterial origin. The literature is reviewed regarding the production and composition of bacterial extracellular polymers, the processes relevant to the facilitated transport of trace metals in soil by bacterial polymers, and potential for transformation of polymers in soils by microbial degradation. Model calculations of contaminant retardation are presented for the case of polymer-mediated transport of cadmium in a sandy aquifer material. The available information suggests that extracellular polymers can bind metal ions and are mobile in the soil environment. Extracellular polymers also appear to be relatively slowly degraded by soil microorganisms. These properties and the supporting model calculations indicate that extracellular polymers of bacterial origin merit consideration as agents that may be applied to contaminated soils to enhance trace metal mobility.
This article was published in Environ Health Perspect
and referenced in Agrotechnology