The assessment of benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene, and xylene (BTEX)-contaminated soil toxicity was performed using a sulfur-oxidizing bacteria (SOB) assay. The experiments were set up using an individual pollutant in a 25-mL bottle sealed with a rubber stopper and aluminum cap since BTEX are volatile. A large headspace volume (14 mL) was kept in the reactors to provide enough oxygen for the SOB. Soil samples were spiked with BTEX compounds in the concentration range of 1-1000 mg/kg. In reactors without BTEX compounds, approximately 85% of the theoretically required oxygen was consumed. Whereas, the reactors with benzene consumed in the range of 82-64% (5-100 mg/kg), those with toluene consumed 76-53% (1-50 mg/kg), those with ethyl-benzene consumed 44-71% (5-100 mg/kg), and those with xylene consumed 64-71% (1-10 mg/kg) of the theoretically required oxygen. The effective concentrations responsible for 50% growth inhibition (EC50) for benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene, and xylene detection were 130.2, 1.2, 15.2, and 0.7 mg/kg, respectively. These results suggest that this SOB-based bioassay can detect BTEX pollutants in soils.
Keywords: BTEX toxicity; Benzene; Ethyl-benzene; Soil toxicity; Sulfur-oxidizing bacterial bioassay; Toluene; Xylene.
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