This study investigated the interferences caused by high humic acid concentrations on the adsorption of coplanar and noncoplanar polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) on coconut shell activated carbon. In particular, the research focuses on the application of activated carbon as a reactive cap for contaminated sediment sites, a possible intervention to reduce contaminant flux through pore water, and to organisms in aquatic environments. Kinetic and equilibrium studies were conducted using activated carbon as a sorbent for individual PCB congeners including BZ 1, 52, 77, 153, and 169, respectively, in the presence and absence of humic acid. Results showed that preloading of activated carbon with humic acid significantly reduced the adsorption affinity for all selected PCB congeners. Experiments conducted without preloading of activated carbon demonstrated that desorption upon subsequent spiking with humic acid (simulating long-term exposure to pore water that contains high humic acid concentrations) was not found to be statistically significant, and varied with coplanarity of PCBs. Results provide important information for the design of reactive caps in sediments where high concentrations of dissolved organic carbon are found, and highlight the importance of considering site conditions when designing effective reactive caps.


Civil Engineering

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Environmental Engineering Science


Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.

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This is a copy of an article published in Environmental Engineering Science ©2009 copyright Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.; Environmental Engineering Science is available online at: http://online.liebertpub.com.