Dehalogenation of α-hexachlorocyclohexane by iron sulfide nanoparticles: Study of reaction mechanism with stable carbon isotopes and pH variations


  • Badea Silviu-Laurentiu
  • Stegarus Diana-Ionela
  • Niculescu Violeta-Carolina
  • Enache Stanica
  • Soare Amalia
  • Ionete Roxana-Elena
  • Gori Didier
  • Höhener Patrick


  • Dehalogenation
  • HCH
  • CSIA
  • FeS
  • Dehydrohalogenation
  • Reductive dechlorination

document type



The biodegradation of hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs) is known to be accompanied by isotope fractionation of carbon (13C/12C), but no systematic studies were performed on abiotic degradation of HCH isomers by iron (II) minerals. In this study, we explored the carbon isotope fractionation of α-HCH during dechlorination by FeS nanoparticles at different pH values. The results of three different experiments showed that the apparent rate constants during dehalogenation of α-HCH by FeS increased with pH. The lowest apparent rate constant value α-HCH during dehalogenation by FeS was 0.009 d−1 at pH value of 2.4, while the highest was 1.098 d−1 at pH 11.8. α-HCH was completely dechlorinated by FeS only at pH values 9.9 and 11.8, while the corresponding apparent rate constants were 0.253 d−1 and 1.098 d−1, respectively. Regardless of the pH used, the 1,2,4-trichlorobenzene (1,2,4-TCB), 1,2-dichlorobenzene (1,2-DCB), and benzene were the dominant degradation products of α-HCH. An enrichment factor (εC) of −4.7 ± 1.3‰ was obtained for α-HCH using Rayleigh model, which is equivalent to an apparent kinetic isotope effect (AKIEC) value of 1.029 ± 0.008 for dehydrohalogenation, and of 1.014 ± 0.004 for dihaloelimination, respectively. The magnitude of isotope fractionation from this study suggests that abiotic isotope fractionation by FeS must be taken into account in anoxic sediments and aquifers contaminated with HCH isomers, when high concentrations of FeS are present in the above-mentioned anoxic environments.

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