Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Journal of Hazardous Materials 241/242 (2012), pp. 441– 449; doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2012.09.064


Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. Used by permission.


Surface waters impacted by urban runoff in metropolitan areas are becoming increasingly contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Slow-release oxidant candles (paraffin–KMnO4) are a relatively new technology being used to treat contaminated groundwater and could potentially be used to treat urban runoff. Given that these candles only release permanganate when submerged, the ephemeral nature of runoff events would influence when the permanganate is released for treating PAHs. Our objective was to determine if slow-release permanganate candles could be used to degrade and mineralize PAHs. Batch experiments quantified PAH degradation rates in the presence of the oxidant candles. Results showed most of the 16 PAHs tested were degraded within 2–4 h. Using 14C-labled phenanthrene and benzo(a)pyrene, we demonstrated that the wax matrix of the candle initially adsorbs the PAH, but then releases the PAH back into solution as transformed, more water soluble products. While permanganate was unable to mineralize the PAHs (i.e., convert to CO2), we found that the permanganate-treated PAHs were much more biodegradable in soil microcosms. To test the concept of using candles to treat PAHs in multiple runoff events, we used a flow-through system where urban runoff water was pumped over a miniature candle in repetitive wet–dry, 24-h cycles. Results showed that the candle was robust in removing PAHs by repeatedly releasing permanganate and degrading the PAHs. These results provide proof-of-concept that permanganate candles could potentially provide a low-cost, low-maintenance approach to remediating PAH-contaminated water.