Natural and enhanced biodegradation of propylene glycol in airport soil

Giuseppe Toscano, M. Letizia Colarieti, Attila Anton, Guido Greco, Borbála Biró

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


Aircraft de-icing fluids (ADF) are a source of water and soil pollution in airport sites. Propylene glycol (PG) is a main component in several commercial formulations of ADFs. Even though PG is biodegradable in soil, seasonal overloads may result in occasional groundwater contamination. Feasibility studies for the biostimulation of PG degradation in soil have been carried out in soil slurries, soil microcosms and enrichment cultures with and without the addition of nutrients (N and P sources, oligoelements), alternative electron acceptors (nitrate, oxygen releasing compounds) and adsorbents (activated carbon). Soil samples have been taken from the contaminated area of Gardermoen Airport Oslo. Under aerobic conditions and in the absence of added nutrients, no or scarce biomass growth is observed and PG degradation occurs by maintenance metabolism at constant removal rate by the original population of PG degraders. With the addition of nutrient, biomass exponential growth enhances aerobic PG degradation also at low temperatures (4 ° C) that occur at the high season of snowmelt. Anaerobic PG degradation without added nutrients still proceeds at constant rate (i.e. no biomass growth) and gives rise to reduced fermentation product (propionic acid, reduced Fe and Mn, methane). The addition of nitrate does not promote biomass growth but allows full PG mineralization without reduced by-products. Further exploitation on the field is necessary to fully evaluate the effect of oxygen releasing compounds and adsorbents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9028-9035
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014



  • Aircraft de-icing fluids
  • Biodegradation kinetics
  • Propylene glycol
  • Pseudomonas
  • Slurry reactors
  • Soil amendments
  • Soil bioremediation
  • Soil microcosms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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