Only limited information is available in the literature on the role of soil mineral surfaces in the sorption of hydrophobic organic pollutants. This knowledge gap is addressed through the assessment of biphenyl sorption to kaolinite, illite and bentonite; using the batch equilibration technique with incubations lasting 6 or 21 days at 28 ± 2°C in the dark [RT1]. Sorption of biphenyl onto kaolinite followed the Freundlich sorption isotherm, whereas linear sorption isotherms were observed on illite and bentonite [RT2]. The biphenyl sorption partition coefficient on kaolinite ranged from 0.1 to 9.1 cm3.g-1 after 6 days and no sorption was observed after 21 days. This could have been caused by a completely reversible sorption or a loss of binding capacity after 21 days [RT3]. The respective values of the biphenyl sorption partition coefficient on illite and bentonite ranged from 20.3 ± 0.3 to 120 ± 8 cm3.g-1.Sorption equilibrium on the internal clay surfaces was reached after 6 days, as indicated by the sorption data for illite and bentonite [RT4]. Access of biphenyl molecules to the internal clay surfaces is a function of the ionic strength of soil solution and the soil organic matter is the dominant site for biphenyl sorption after 6 to 21 days.
Key words: Biphenyl, sorption, kaolinite, illite, bentonite.
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