Emerging organic pollutants in the vadose zone of a soil aquifer treatment system: Pore water extraction using positive displacement

Alexander Sopilniak, Roy Elkayam, Anna Voloshenko Rossin, Ovadia Lev*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Trace organic compounds in effluents, water streams and aquifers are amply reported. However, the mobile pool of Emerging Organic Contaminants (EOCs) in the deep parts of the vadose zone is hard to estimate, due to difficulties in extraction of sufficient quantity of pore water. Here, we present a new methodology for depth profiling of EOCs in pore water by Positive Displacement Extraction (PDE): Pore water extraction from unsaturated soil samples is carried out by withdrawal of soil cores by direct-push drilling and infiltrating the core by organics free water. We show that EOC concentrations in the water eluted in the plateau region of the inverse breakthrough curve is equal to their pore water concentrations. The method was previously validated for DOC extraction, and here the scope of the methodology is extended to pore water extraction for organic pollutants analysis. Method characteristics and validation were carried out with atrazine, simazine, carbamazepine, venlafaxine, O-desmethylvenlafaxine and caffeine in the concentration range of several ng to several μg/liter. Validation was carried out by laboratory experiments on three different soils (sandy, sandy-clayey and clayey). Field studies in the vadose zone of a SAT system provided 27 m deep EOC profiles with less than 1.5 m spatial resolution. During the percolation treatment, carbamazepine remained persistent, while the other studied EOCs were attenuated to the extent of 50–99%.The highest degradation rate of all studied EOCs was in the aerobic zone. EOC levels based on PDE and extraction by centrifugation were compared, showing a positive bias for centrifugation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)383-392
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • Breakthrough curves
  • Emerging organic contaminants (EOCs)
  • Pore water extraction
  • Soil-aquifer treatment (SAT)
  • Wastewater treatment


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