The production and degradation of trichloroacetic acid in soil: Results from in situ soil column experiments

Mathew R. Heal, C. A. Dickey, K. V. Heal, R. T. Stidson, M. Matucha, J. N. Cape

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Previous work has indicated that the soil is important to understanding biogeochemical fluxes of trichloroacetic acid (TCA) in the rural environment, in forests in particular. Here, the hydrological and TCA fluxes through 22 in situ soil columns in a forest and moorland-covered catchment and an agricultural grassland field in Scotland were monitored every 2 weeks for several months either as controls or in TCA manipulation (artificial dosing) experiments. This was supplemented by laboratory experiments with radioactively-labelled TCA and with irradiated (sterilised) soil columns. Control in situ forest soil columns showed evidence of net export (i.e. in situ production) of TCA, consistent with a net soil TCA production inferred from forest-scale mass balance estimations. At the same time, there was also clear evidence of substantial in situ degradation within the soil (similar to 70% on average) of applied TCA. The laboratory experiments showed that both the formation and degradation processes operate on time scales of up to a few days and appeared related more with biological rather than abiotic processes. Soil TCA activity was greater in more organic-rich soils, particularly within forests, and there was strong correlation between TCA and soil biomass carbon content. Overall it appears that TCA soil processes exemplify the substantial natural biogeochemical cycling of chlorine within soils, independent of any anthropogenic chlorine flux. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-407
Number of pages7
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Trichloroacetic acid
  • TCA
  • Soil lysimeter
  • Microbial biomass
  • Degradation


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