Title

Effect of Groundwater Depth on Aerobic Biodegradation of BTEX using In-planta Measurements

Presenter Information

Rachel Bartz

Department

Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Major

Environmental Engineering

Research Advisor

Burken, Joel G. (Joel Gerard)

Advisor's Department

Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Funding Source

Missouri S&T Opportunities for Undergraduate Research Experiences (OURE) Program; The Ministry of the Environment, Ontario, Canada

Abstract

Lab studies confirm that trees extract and translocate moderately hydrophobic contaminants and sampling trees for BTEX can help delineate plumes in field studies. However, when BTEX is detected in the groundwater, detection in nearby trees is not as reliable as for other compounds. Aerobic rhizosphere and bulk soil degradation is a potential explanation for the variability of BTEX in trees. This experiments aim was to determine the effect of groundwater level on BTEX concentration in tree tissue, hypothesizing that low water levels promote degradation of BTEX and lower concentrations in trees. Planted reactors with variable water levels and methods for measuring BTEX concentrations in trees were designed and developed. Variable water level was found to significantly affect BTEX concentrations in trees indicating that the influx of oxygen coupled with the presence of the tree facilitates aerobic biodegradation of BTEX in the vadose zone.

Biography

Rachel is a sophomore studying Environmental Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. She is currently working on an undergraduate research project in the Environmental Engineering Department. The goal of the research project is to determine how the level of groundwater affects the contaminant (BTEX) concentration in the tree tissue and the efficacy of using trees as bio-indicators of pollution. Aside from working on her research project, she is also a dedicated member and Secretary of the Engineers Without Borders organization at Missouri S&T, working to develop a potable water system for the Nahualate community in Guatemala.

Research Category

Engineering

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Document Type

Poster

Award

Engineering poster session, Third place

Location

Upper Atrium/Hallway

Presentation Date

06 Apr 2011, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Comments

Joint project with Jordan Wilson

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Apr 6th, 1:00 PM Apr 6th, 3:00 PM

Effect of Groundwater Depth on Aerobic Biodegradation of BTEX using In-planta Measurements

Upper Atrium/Hallway

Lab studies confirm that trees extract and translocate moderately hydrophobic contaminants and sampling trees for BTEX can help delineate plumes in field studies. However, when BTEX is detected in the groundwater, detection in nearby trees is not as reliable as for other compounds. Aerobic rhizosphere and bulk soil degradation is a potential explanation for the variability of BTEX in trees. This experiments aim was to determine the effect of groundwater level on BTEX concentration in tree tissue, hypothesizing that low water levels promote degradation of BTEX and lower concentrations in trees. Planted reactors with variable water levels and methods for measuring BTEX concentrations in trees were designed and developed. Variable water level was found to significantly affect BTEX concentrations in trees indicating that the influx of oxygen coupled with the presence of the tree facilitates aerobic biodegradation of BTEX in the vadose zone.