Characterizing natural degradation of tetrachloroethene (PCE) using a multidisciplinary approach

Sofia Åkesson, Charlotte J. Sparrenbom, Catherine J. Paul, Robin Jansson, Henry Holmstrand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A site in mid-western Sweden contaminated with chlorinated solvents originating from a previous dry cleaning facility, was investigated using conventional groundwater analysis combined with compound-specific isotope data of carbon, microbial DNA analysis, and geoelectrical tomography techniques. We show the value of this multidisciplinary approach, as the different results supported each interpretation, and show where natural degradation occurs at the site. The zone where natural degradation occurred was identified in the transition between two geological units, where the change in hydraulic conductivity may have facilitated biofilm formation and microbial activity. This observation was confirmed by all methods and the examination of the impact of geological conditions on the biotransformation process was facilitated by the unique combination of the applied methods. There is thus significant benefit from deploying an extended array of methods for these investigations, with the potential to reduce costs involved in remediation of contaminated sediment and groundwater.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1074-1088
Number of pages15
JournalAmbio: a Journal of Human Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec 2

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Geosciences, Multidisciplinary
  • Geology
  • Geophysics
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Bioremediation

Free keywords

  • Chlorinated solvents
  • Compound-Specific Isotope Analysis
  • Geophysics
  • Groundwater
  • Natural degradation
  • Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction


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