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      Simultaneous Desorption of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Heavy Metals from Contaminated Soils by Rhamnolipid Biosurfactants

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          Hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs) and heavy metals (HMs) are toxins that usually coexist in natural environments. Due to the differences in their properties, it remains challenging to simultaneously remove HMs and HOCs. In this study, the removal of phenanthrene (Phe) and lead (Pb) from co-contaminated soils by single rhamnolipid (RL) and mixed RL-sophorolipid (SL) biosurfactants were evaluated via soil column experiments. Biosurfactant micelle sizes were determined by dynamic light scattering, and the mechanisms of micelle solubilization were studied. The effects of biosurfactant concentrations, pH, washing agent salinity and the ageing time of polluted soils on Phe and Pb desorption efficiencies were also assessed. The substantial removal of Phe and Pb using mixed RL-SL systems, when molar fractions of RLs were 0.7, was attributed to large mixed micelle formation and lower sorption losses of these systems. The optimal pH value was 6.0, while Phe desorption was favoured at high RLs and low ionic strengths. However, the RLs concentration and ionic strength had no obvious influence on Pb removal. In addition, both Phe and Pb desorption decreased with increased ageing of the polluted soils. Combined RL-SL biosurfactants can be effective for simultaneously removing HOCs and HMs from polluted soils.

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          Author and article information

          Journal of Ocean University of China
          Science Press and Springer (China )
          10 July 2020
          01 August 2020
          : 19
          : 4
          : 874-882
          1College of Environmental Science and Engineering, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266100, China
          2China Offshore Environmental Service Limited, Tianjin 300452, China
          3High and New Technology Research Center of Henan Academy of Sciences, Zhengzhou 450002, China
          4Key Laboratory of Marine Chemistry Theory and Technology, Ministry of Education, Qingdao 266100, China
          5College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Ocean University of China, Qingdao 266100, China
          Author notes
          *Corresponding author: LIANG Shengkang, Tel: 0086-532-66786355, E-mail: liangsk@

          # These authors contributed equally to the work.

          Copyright © Ocean University of China, Science Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2020.

          The copyright to this article, including any graphic elements therein (e.g. illustrations, charts, moving images), is hereby assigned for good and valuable consideration to the editorial office of Journal of Ocean University of China, Science Press and Springer effective if and when the article is accepted for publication and to the extent assignable if assignability is restricted for by applicable law or regulations (e.g. for U.S. government or crown employees).

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