A partition-limited model for the plant uptake of organic contaminants from soil and water

Cary T. Chiou, Guangyao Sheng, Milton Manes

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Abstract

In dealing with the passive transport of organic contaminants from soils to plants (including crops), a partition-limited model is proposed in which (i) the maximum (equilibrium) concentration of a contaminant in any location in the plant is determined by partition equilibrium with its concentration in the soil interstitial water, which in turn is determined essentially by the concentration in the soil organic matter (SOM) and (ii) the extent of approach to partition equilibrium, as measured by the ratio of the contaminant concentrations in plant water and soil interstitial water, αpt (≤ 1), depends on the transport rate of the contaminant in soil water into the plant and the volume of soil water solution that is required for the plant contaminant level to reach equilibrium with the external soil-water phase. Through reasonable estimates of plant organic-water compositions and of contaminant partition coefficients with various plant components, the model accounts for calculated values of αpt in several published crop-contamination studies, including near-equilibrium values (i.e., αpt ≅ 1) for relatively water-soluble contaminants and lower values for much less soluble contaminants; the differences are attributed to the much higher partition coefficients of the less soluble compounds between plant lipids and plant water, which necessitates much larger volumes of the plant water transport for achieving the equilibrium capacities. The model analysis indicates that for plants with high water contents the plant-water phase acts as the major reservoir for highly water-soluble contaminants. By contrast, the lipid in a plant, even at small amounts, is usually the major reservoir for highly water-insoluble contaminants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1437-1444
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume35
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Apr 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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