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Biogeochemical redox processes and their impact on contaminant dynamics

March 4, 2010

Life and element cycling on Earth is directly related to electron transfer (or redox) reactions. An understanding of biogeochemical redox processes is crucial for predicting and protecting environmental health and can provide new opportunities for engineered remediation strategies. Energy can be released and stored by means of redox reactions via the oxidation of labile organic carbon or inorganic compounds (electron donors) by microorganisms coupled to the reduction of electron acceptors including humic substances, iron-bearing minerals, transition metals, metalloids, and actinides. Environmental redox processes play key roles in the formation and dissolution of mineral phases. Redox cycling of naturally occurring trace elements and their host minerals often controls the release or sequestration of inorganic contaminants. Redox processes control the chemical speciation, bioavailability, toxicity, and mobility of many major and trace elements including Fe, Mn, C, P, N, S, Cr, Cu, Co, As, Sb, Se, Hg, Tc, and U. Redox-active humic substances and mineral surfaces can catalyze the redox transformation and degradation of organic contaminants. In this review article, we highlight recent advances in our understanding of biogeochemical redox processes and their impact on contaminant fate and transport, including future research needs.

Publication Year 2010
Title Biogeochemical redox processes and their impact on contaminant dynamics
DOI 10.1021/es9026248
Authors Thomas Borch, Ruben Kretzschmar, Andreas Kappler, Philippe Van Cappellen, Matthew Ginder-Vogel, Kate M. Campbell
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Science & Technology
Index ID 70178260
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Toxic Substances Hydrology Program; National Research Program - Central Branch