—Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are ubiquitous pollutants in
the environment. Due to their physical-chemical properties,
PAHs and PCBs can be accumulated in organic matrices such
as living organisms, soil and sludge. Their toxicity and
mutagenicity is a serious concern. In many cases an effective
strategy to assess the pollution of water streams is to detect
these compounds using biofilms, sediment and sludge as passive
However, the absorption of hydrophobic compounds in
biofilms is a reversible mechanism. The molecules of a specific
pollutant can be desorbed back into the water column when
specific conditions have changed. Furthermore, those molecules
could be biodegraded by the microorganisms living inside that
Thus, the pollutant is not going to remain detectable inside
that biofilm sample permanently, but only for a limited time.
This is due to the memory effect.
The aim of this work is to retrieve the most relevant data on
this subject and build from scratch a simplified model. This will
help to understand how microbial biofilms can influence the
distribution of PAHs and PCBs in water streams.
Absorption, desorption and biodegradation are the three
main mechanisms considered for the calculations.
This information will surely stimulate further research on
this topic. Phenanthrene and pyrene were chosen as reference
compounds for PAHs and Kaneclor 300, Aroclor 1260 and
other tri- and tetra- chlorinated byphenils were chosen as
reference for PCBs.
—Sorption, memory, biofilms, polycyclic
Giacomo Bertini is with the Prozess Analysen Instrumente GmbH,
Hipstedt, Germany (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Cite: Giacomo Bertini, "Memory Effect of Aquatic Biofilms in the Partitioning of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) in Water Streams," International Journal of Environmental Science and Development vol. 7, no. 12, pp. 921-927, 2016.