Sorption-desorption behavior of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in upstream and downstream river sediments

Adi Oren, Benny Chefetz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Sorption and desorption behaviors of phenanthrene and naphthalene were studied with the whole sediment, humic acid (HA) and humin samples from downstream and upstream sites along the Kishon River, Israel. The 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectra and the sorption coefficients suggest that sorption occurs to both aromatic and aliphatic moieties of the sedimentary organic matter and that rigid paraffinic domains probably contribute to the sorption non-linearity. The carbon-normalized Freundlich affinity values for the two sorbates were significantly higher for the whole sediment and humin samples from the downstream region of the river than for the upstream sediment samples. On the basis of the measured affinity values, the sorbents can be arranged in the following order: humin > HA > whole sediment. Phenanthrene exhibited the lowest desorption from the whole sediment samples compared with the other sorbents. For naphthalene, the desorption hysteresis obtained with the whole sediment and humin samples were similar: both exhibited a decrease in desorption with decreasing solute concentration. The higher sorption affinities observed for all the organic fractions from the downstream sediment are suggested to be related to the low levels of polar domains and humin content. It is concluded that in bulk sediment samples, the overall contribution of the HA fraction to short-term sorption is of high importance, but the sorption non-linearity is controlled mainly by the humin complexes. The low desorption potential recorded for the whole sediment samples could affect the natural attenuation of the sorbed hydrophobic organic compounds.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)19-29
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by The Max Deutsch Foundation for Water Research.


  • C NMR
  • Desorption hysteresis
  • Humic acid
  • Humin
  • Sedimentary organic matter


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