Land disposal is required for industrial chemicals which are not readily biodegraded. Such compounds lead to adverse effects on the environment if they escape containment. Recalcitrant and persistent hydrocarbons and chlorinated chemicals are inherently resistant to any degree of biodegradation and cause a growing threat to underground aquifer quality. Hydrogen peroxide is a potentially economical method of pre-oxidation utilized to enhance the biodegradation of persistent and recalcitrant organics in contaminated soil systems. This pre-oxidation technology was examined in a laboratory respirometer using three model toxic organic chemicals: toluene, trichloroethylene and pentachlorophenol. Microbial cultures were selected from contaminated sites for the degradation of each model organic chemical. The rate at which the microbes degraded the organic chemicals in unoxidized aqueous systems was compared to the rate of degradation in peroxide pre-oxidized aqueous systems. Results indicated that pre-oxidation enhanced the biodegradation of trichloroethylene and pentachlorophenol. Toluene, in contrast, was not significantly oxidized by pretreatment with hydrogen peroxide, and its biodegradation rate was not enhanced by the oxidation pre-treatment process.

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