WSP 2402

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Katz, B.G., 1993, Biogeochemical and hydrological processes controlling the transport and fate of 1,2-dibromoethane (EDB) in soil and ground water, central Florida: Water-Supply Paper 2402, 35 p.


Widespread contamination of ground water in central Florida by 1,2-dibromoethane (EDB) has resulted because of its heavy usage as a soil fumigant during a 20-year period, its relatively high aqueous solubility, and the low sorption capacity of the highly permeable sandy soils lacking organic matter. Two models were used to improve understanding of biogeochemical and hydrological processes that control the transport and fate of EDB in soil and ground water. First, a mass-balance model was developed to estimate the max-imum concentration of EDB in ground water resulting from known application rates of EDB. Key processes that were quantified in the model included volatilization, diffusion of EDB vapor in soils, partitioning between aqueous and gaseous phases, sorption of EDB vapor on organic carbon and soil particles, chemical and biological degradation reactions, and nonreversible binding of EDB to soils. Model calculations using an EDB half-life of 0.65 year closely reproduced the maximum observed concentrations in ground water, 37 and 0.22 micrograms per liter, at downgradient sites in two study areas in central Florida.

Maximum concentrations of EDB in ground water also were estimated in a second model that incorporated an analytical solution to the three-dimensional advection-dispersion equation for instantaneous point sources of EDB entering the flow systems in the two study areas. The model used an EDB half-life of 0.65 year (obtained from the mass-balance calculations), mean ground-water flow velocities of 0.6 to 1 meter per day, coefficients of longitudinal hydro-dynamic dispersion of 0.6 to 1.0 square meter per day, and coefficients of transverse hydrodynamic dispersion of 0.1 square meter per day. Peak concentrations of EDB in ground water calculated from the analytical model agreed closely with observed peak concentrations measured from 1983 through 1987.