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A Push–Pull Test To Measure Root Uptake of Volatile Chemicals from Wetland Soils

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544, United States
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2013, 47, 7, 3190–3198
Publication Date (Web):March 5, 2013
Copyright © 2013 American Chemical Society

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    This paper introduces a novel modification of the single-well “push–pull” test that uses nonvolatile and multiple volatile tracers to investigate the transport and root uptake kinetics of volatile chemicals in saturated soils. This technique provides an estimate of potential volatilization fluxes without relying on enclosure-based measurements. The new push–pull methodology was validated with mesocosm experiments, and bench-scale hydroponic measurements were performed to develop an empirical relationship for scaling root uptake rates between chemicals. A new modeling approach to interpret data using sulfur hexafluoride and helium as dual volatile tracers was developed and shown to decrease errors relative to existing analytical techniques that utilize bromide as a conservative tracer. Root uptake of the volatile tracers was diffusion-limited, and uptake rate constants (kv) in vegetated experimental mesocosms ranged from 0.021 ± 9.0 × 10–4 h–1 for CFC-12 to 2.41 ± 0.98 h–1 for helium. Hydroponic and mesocosm experiments demonstrate that the molecular diameter is a robust empirical predictor of kv.

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    Derivation of the modified dual volatile tracer equation, additional details on analytical methods, discussion of the field implementation of the PPT approach, and additional figures. This material is available free of charge via the Internet at

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    Cited By

    This article is cited by 10 publications.

    1. Matt Limmer and Joel Burken . Phytovolatilization of Organic Contaminants. Environmental Science & Technology 2016, 50 (13) , 6632-6643.
    2. Ann Kambhu, Tunlawit Satapanajaru, Piyapawn Somsamak, Patthra Pengthamkeerati, Chanat Chokejaroenrat, Kanitchanok Muangkaew, Kanthika Nonthamit. Green cleanup of styrene-contaminated soil by carbon-based nanoscale zero-valent iron and phytoremediation: Sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea), zinnia (Zinnia violacea Cav.), and marigold (Tagetes erecta L.). Heliyon 2024, 10 (6) , e27499.
    3. Aohan Jin, Quanrong Wang, Hongbin Zhan. A novel four phase slug single-well push–pull test with regional flux: forward modeling and parameter estimation. Journal of Hydrology 2024, 630 , 130705.
    4. Xuwei Li, Wenyi Xie, Da Ding, Mengjie Wang, Lingya Kong, Dengdeng Jiang, Shaopo Deng. An Analysis of the Spatial Characteristics and Transport Fluxes of BTEX in Soil and Atmospheric Phases at a Decommissioned Steel Mill Site in China with a Long History. Toxics 2023, 11 (10) , 868.
    5. Simiao Wang, Matthew C. Reid. Kinetics of nitrous oxide mass transfer from porewater into root aerenchyma of wetland plants. Journal of Environmental Quality 2020, 49 (6) , 1717-1729.
    6. Viet Cao, Mario Schaffer, Reza Taherdangkoo, Tobias Licha. Solute Reactive Tracers for Hydrogeological Applications: A Short Review and Future Prospects. Water 2020, 12 (3) , 653.
    7. Adil Alsaiari, Hao L. Tang. Field investigations of passive and active processes for acid mine drainage Treatment: Are anions a concern?. Ecological Engineering 2018, 122 , 100-106.
    8. David S. Pal, Rajan Tripathee, Matthew C. Reid, Karina V. R. Schäfer, Peter R. Jaffé. Simultaneous measurements of dissolved CH4 and H2 in wetland soils. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 2018, 190 (3)
    9. Matthew C. Reid, David S. Pal, Peter R. Jaffé. Dissolved gas dynamics in wetland soils: Root-mediated gas transfer kinetics determined via push-pull tracer tests. Water Resources Research 2015, 51 (9) , 7343-7357.
    10. ÜLO NIINEMETS, SILVANO FARES, PETER HARLEY, KOLBY J. JARDINE. Bidirectional exchange of biogenic volatiles with vegetation: emission sources, reactions, breakdown and deposition. Plant, Cell & Environment 2014, 37 (8) , 1790-1809.

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