Benzo(a)pyrene (BaP) pollution in urban soils is a concern for urban farmers and limits cities' ability to use vacant land to grow food. BaP is a hydrophobic organic compound that forms as a result of incomplete combustion of organic materials from asphalt paving, diesel and gasoline emissions, wood burning, and burning of coal, oil, and soot from industry. Our research aims to develop a low cost ecological remediation method to reduce BaP concentration in urban soils to a level safe for food production. Previous studies suggest that soil microorganisms can break down organic pollutants such as BaP, however a successful method has yet to be determined. The ultimate goal of this project is to determine the effectiveness of BaP remediation using aerobically produced compost with a diverse and abundant microbial community. Currently we are developing a synchronous scanning fluorescence spectroscopy method to evaluate the soil at 90 locations on the farm to assess the extent of BaP contamination. The method and results of the soil assessment will be presented. In continued work, we will also measure BaP concentration after in situ amendment of aerobic compost in ratios of 1:1, 1:0.5, and 1:0.33, to determine the proportion required for BaP degradation. We hypothesize that the 1:1 soil ratio will decrease BaP concentration by half, simply by dilution, and more due to degradation by soil microorganisms. As for the other ratios, we expect them to decrease BaP concentration in the soils as a result of the microorganisms breaking down BaP molecules, perhaps at various levels.
University / Institution: Westminster College
Format: In Person
SESSION D (3:30-5:00PM)
Area of Research: Science & Technology
Faculty Mentor: Christy Clay
Location: Union Building, THEATRE (4:10pm)