The feasibility of a mild-solvent extraction procedure to predict the bioavailability of individual polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soil was assessed. The quantities that were degraded during the course of biodegradation of phenanthrene and pyrene in soil with or without plants correlated with the amounts extracted by n-butanol, with R2values of 0.971 and 0.994, respectively. Six consecutive groups of earthworms removed ca. 70% of the pyrene remaining after extensive biodegradation, a value similar to the quantity extracted by n-butanol. The amount of chrysene aged in sterilized soil that was extracted by n-butanol was not statistically different from the quantities assimilated by earthworms (Eisenia fetida) introduced into the soil. Such a mild extraction procedure may be useful as a means of predicting PAH bioavailability. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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