Evaluating the toxic effects of industrial waste from a historic landfarming site using bioassays

Van Wyk, Mia (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2011-12)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Landfarming is a widely used method for the disposal of contaminants in the petrochemical industry. It involves ploughing the contaminants into the top soil layer allowing biological breakdown. A historically landfarmed site was identified at a South African petrol refinery. The refinery used to dispose so-called American Petroleum Institute (API) -sludge onto a landfarming site. API-sludge consisted of a mixture of oil and water soluble contaminants originating from a process of separating refinery waste from reusable water and oil. Landfarming on this site was discontinued after excessive quantities of sludge were ploughed into the soil over time and it became obvious that effective biodegradation could not take place. An environmental assessment had to be carried out to assess to what extent the soil has recovered from the contamination and after remediation was done over time. Bioassays together with chemical analyses were executed to determine the level of pollutants in the soil and to assess the integrated effects of their bioavailable fractions. The landfarming site of the refinery was divided into two sections namely, a more contaminated north-site and less contaminated south-site. Soil samples were collected from both sites as well as from an off-site (control site). The soils were analysed physically, chemically and used in the bioassays. Two additional control soils were also used, OECD-soil and LUFA2.2 soil. Chemical analysis of the site soils showed the presence of heavy metals and high levels of diesel range organic hydrocarbons. The north-site had higher levels of contaminants compared to the south-site. Three species of soil organisms were used in standardised tests: Eisenia andrei, Enchytraeus doerjesi and Folsomia candida were exposed to the respective soils to study their survival, growth, reproduction success and avoidance behavior. Exposures to both site-soils were not acutely toxic to any organisms. F. candida had a decrease in juvenile production in both north- and south-site soils (289.42 ± 58.62 and 253.33 ± 122.94 respectively) compared to the control soil (479.89 ± 30.42). E. doerjesi showed an increase in produced juveniles exposed to north- and south-site soil (339.75 ± 76.92 and 414.00 ± 17.78 ) compared to control soil (57 ± 34.39). E. andrei had similar cocoon production when exposed to south-site soil than in off-site soil (19.00 ± 5.3 and 18.5 ± 9.7 respectively) but significantly less in north-site soil (1.25 ± 0.7). Only E. doerjesi showed avoidance of north-site soil. To determine the sensitivity of the organisms to the API-sludge, they were exposed to concentration series of API-sludge-spiked control soils. The effect concentrations were calculated as the concentration of API-sludge that will decrease the studied endpoints by 50% of the control soil (EC50). The EC50s varied for each species exposed in the different control soils showing that the toxicity of the API-sludge is to a certain extent dependent on the physical soil properties of the substrate. The reproduction of F. candida were most sensitive to the API-sludge in off-site soil (EC50 = 90 mg/kg) and the E. doerjesi the least sensitive in LUFA2.2 soil (EC50 = 36000 mg/kg). Five plant species were exposed to API-sludge-spiked potting soil and the germination success, early growth rate and biomass were studied. The plants were not as sensitive to API-sludge as the soil animals. Lettuce and grass were affected the most by API-sludge and beans were the most resilient species. With the addition of low levels API-sludge to the substrate, the growth rate of beans was stimulated. This study showed that the south-site has been successfully remediated and most soil organisms exposed to these soils were not affected by the levels of toxicants present. However, exposures to north-site soil still had negative effects on soil organisms. It is recommended that hydrocarbon contamination should be further remediated in the north-site soil before landfarming should be allowed to continue.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Ploegverwerking is ‘n algemene remediëringsmetode vir die verwerking van afvalmateriaal in petrochemiese industrieë. Dit behels die inploeg van toksiese afvalmateriaal in die boonstegrondlaag sodat dit biologies afgebreek kan word. ‘n Voorbeeld van ‘n histories ploegverwerkte grondstuk is geidentifiseer by ‘n Suid-Afrikaanse olieraffinadery. Die raffinadery het in die verlede van die grondstuk gebruik gemaak om sogenaamde Amerikaanse Petroleum Instituut-slik (API-slik) daarin te ploeg. Die API-slik bestaan uit ‘n mengsel van olie- en wateroplosbare kontaminante afkomstig van die proses waardeur die raffinadery se afvalprodukte van hernubare water en olie geskei word. Nadat oormatige konsentrasies slik in die grond ingewerk is en bioremediasie nie meer doeltreffend kon voortgaan nie, is die ploegverwerking gestaak. ‘n Omgewingimpakstudie moes uitgevoer word om te bepaal tot watter mate die grond herstel het nadat remediasie oor tyd uitgevoer is. Toksisiteitstoetse en chemiese analises is uitgevoer om die vlakke van besoedeling sowel as die biobeskikbare fraksie daarvan in die grond te bepaal. Die ploegverwerkte area van die raffinadery is in twee verdeel naamlik, ‘n meer gekontamineerde noordelike area en ‘n minder gekontamineerde suidelike area. Grondmonsters is van die onderskeie areas asook van ‘n ongekontamineerde veld (as kontrole) naby die ploegverwerkte area versamel Die gronde is fisies- en chemies geanaliseer en toksisiteitstoetse is uitgevoer. Twee addisionele kontolegronde is ook tydens die blootstellings gebruik naamlik, OECD- en LUFA2.2-grond. Die chemiese analises van die ploegverwerkte toetsgronde het getoon dat daar steeds swaarmetale en hoë vlakke van dieselgekoppelde organiese koolwaterstowwe in die gronde teenwoordig is. Kontaminante was in hoër konsentrasies teenwoordig in die grond van die noordelike gebied as in dié van die suidelike gebied. Drie spesies van grondorganismes is gebruik tydens standaard toksisitetitstoetse. Eisenia andrei, Enchytraeus doerjesi en Folsomia candida is blootgestel aan die onderskeie toets- en kontrolegronde waarna hul oorlewing, groei, voortplantingsukses en vermydingsreaksies bestudeer is. Blootstellings aan die ploegverwerkte toetsgronde het geen akute toksisiteit vir enige van die spesies getoon nie. F. candida se juveniele produksie was laer in beide noordelike- en suidelike toetsgronde (289.42 ± 58.62 en 253.33 ± 122.94 onderskeidelik) as in die kontolegrond (479.89 ± 30.42). E. doerjesi blootstellings het ‘n toename in juveniele getalle getoon in die noordelike- en suidelike toetsgronde (339.75 ± 76.92 en 414.00 ± 17.78) in vergelyking met die ongekontamineerde kontolegrond (57 ± 34.39). Kokonproduksie by E. andrei was soorgelyk in die suidelike toetsgrond en ongekontamineerde kontrolegronde (19.00 ± 5.3 en 18.5 ± 9.7 onderskeidelik) maar beduidend minder as in noordelike toetsgrond (1.25 ± 0.7). Slegs E. doerjesi het ‘n beduidende vermydingsreaksie vir die noordelike toetsgronde getoon. Om die sensitiwiteit van die organismes aan vars API-slik te bestudeer, is hulle blootgestel aan konsentrasiereekse van API-slik in die onderskeie kontrolegronde. Die effektiewe konsentrasie (EK50) is bereken as die konsentrasie van API-slik wat die bestudeerde eindpunte met 50% sal verminder in vergelyking met die kontrolegrond Die EK50-waardes vir al die spesies het verskil na blootstelling aan die onderskeie kontrolegronde. Dus, die toksisiteit van die API-slik is tot ‘n sekere mate ook afhanklik van die fisiese grondeienskappe van die blootsellingssubstraat. Die voortplanting van F. candida was die gevoeligste eindpunt vir die blootstelling aan API-slik in kontolegrond (EK50 = 90 mg/kg) en E. doerjesi was die minste gevoelig in LUFA2.2 grond (EK50 = 36000 mg/kg). Vyf plantspesies is ook blootgestel aan API-slikgekontamineerde potgrond en die saadontkiemingssukses, vroeë groeikoers en biomassa is bestudeer. Alhoewel plante nie so sensitief was vir die API-slik soos die gronddiere nie, was blaarslaai en gras die meeste geaffekteer tydens die blootstellings. Boontjies was die ongevoeligste en met die toevoeging van lae konsentrasies API-slik (2.5% API-slik), is hul groeikoers selfs gestimuleer. Uit die studie was dit duidelik dat die suidelike deel van die grondstuk meer suksesvol as die noordelike geremidieer is en dat meeste grondorganismes wat daaraan bloot gestel is nie geaffekteer is deur die vlakke van kontaminasie wat steeds teenwoordig is in die grond nie. Die toetsgronde uit die noordelike deel het egter steeds negatiewe effekte op die grondorganismes gehad. Dit word voorgestel dat die koolwaterstof kontaminasie verder geremidieër behoort te word in die noordelike deel van die grondstuk voordat verdere ploegverwerking van die afval daar gedoen word.

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