Effect of Vegetation on the Fate of Petroleum Hydrocarbons in Laboratory-Scale Rain Gardens

Gregory H. Lefevre, Paige J. Novak, Raymond M. Hozalski

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Little is known about the ultimate fate of petroleum hydrocarbons in bioretention areas or the factors that influence their fate, including vegetation choice. In this work, laboratory-scale bioretention cells were constructed inside sealed glass columns and spiked with 14C-naphthalene to permit an accurate accounting of naphthalene fate. Three columns were operated for approximately 5 months: an unplanted control column, a column planted with Blue Joint Grass, and a column planted with purple prairie clover (a legume). Naphthalene volatilization, leaching, biodegradation (mineralization), sorption, and plant uptake were determined. Adsorption to soil was the dominant naphthalene removal mechanism within the columns, although mineralization and vegetative uptake also were important. Contaminant volatilization was negligible and leaching of the contaminant was minor after some initial washout. Enrichment of the naphthalene degrader community (p<0.05) in the columns was measured using biodegradation batch experiments. The vegetated columns experienced enhanced enrichment compared to the unplanted columns (p<0.05). This research suggests that vegetation not only provides enhanced aesthetic appeal to bioretention cells but also measurable pollution control benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDesign Methods and Case Studies
EditorsMichael L. Clar, Robert G. Traver, Shirley E. Clark, Shannon Lucas, Keith Lichten, Michael A. Ports, Aaron Poretsky
PublisherAmerican Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780784413883
StatePublished - 2015
Event2011 Low Impact Development Conference: Implementation and Economics - Philadelphia, United States
Duration: Sep 25 2011Sep 28 2011

Publication series

NameLow Impact Development Technology: Implementation and Economics


Conference2011 Low Impact Development Conference: Implementation and Economics
Country/TerritoryUnited States

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DGE-0504195. Additional funding was provided by a grant from the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center, an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (GHL), and a University of Minnesota Graduate School Fellowship (GHL).

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