Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Published in Published in J. Environ. Qual. 30:1636–1643 (2001). Abbreviations: HPLC. Copyright 2001. Used by permission.


Pesticide spills are common occurrences at agricultural cooperatives and farmsteads. When inadvertent spills occur, chemicals normally beneficial can become point sources of ground and surface water contamination. We report results from a field trial where approximately 765 m3 of soil from a metolachlor [2-chloro-N-(2-ethyl-6-methylphenyl)-N-(2-methoxy-1-methylethyl) acetamide] spill site was treated with zerovalent iron (Fe0). Preliminary laboratory experiments confirmed metolachlor dechlorination by Fe0 in aqueous solution and that this process could be accelerated by adding appropriate proportions of Al2(SO4)3 or acetic acid (CH3COOH). The field project was initiated by moving the stockpiled, contaminated soil into windrows using common earth-moving equipment. The soil was then mixed with water (0.35–0.40 kgH2Okg-1 ) and various combinations of 5% Fe0 (w/w), 2% Al2(SO4)3 (w/w), and 0.5% acetic acid (v/w). Windrows were covered with clear plastic and incubated without additional mixing for 90 d. Approximately every 14 d, the plastic sheeting was removed for soil sampling and the surface of the windrows rewetted. Metolachlor concentrations were significantly reduced and varied among treatments. The addition of Fe0 alone decreased metolachlor concentration from 1789 to 504 mg kg-1 within 90 d, whereas adding Fe0 with Al2(SO4)3 and CH3COOH decreased the concentration from 1402 to 13 mg kg-1. (These results provide evidence that zerovalent iron can be used for on-site, field-scale treatment of pesticide-contaminated soil.