Biochemical and Physical Characterization of Petroleum Hydrocarbon Contaminated Soils in Tehran


1 Department of the Environment, Hamedan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Hamedan, Iran

2 Department of Agriculture, University of Sayyed Jamaleddin Asad abadi, Asad abad, Iran

3 Young Researchers & Elite Club, Hamedan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Hamedan, Iran


   Contamination of soil was investigated in this study from the Tehran Oil refining Co. of Iran. Fifteen soil samples were collected at several points in the Azimabad, 15 km south of Tehran City, Iran. Samples were collected at depths of 0–30 cm. Control sampleswere prepared to determinebackgroundlevels ofsoil contaminationwithpetroleumhydrocarbonsfor comparison with contaminatedsites. Total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) concentrations varied from 101334.0–101367.1 and 25321.1–25876.6 mg kg-1 respectively. The results elevated levels of TPH and PAH contents when compared with the control sample. Soil acidity (low pH of 5.3–5.9) and low electrical conductivity provided evidence of reduced metabolic activities on the affected site.Microbialgrowthrates for bacteria and fungi expressed as colony forming units were 2.62×109 and 4.14×106CFU/g soil, respectively for the contaminated and 5.76×109 and 6.83×106CFU/g soil, for the control treatments respectively. These drastic changes can have impact on the nutrient cycle and prevents the absorption of nutrients by plant root sand lead to a reduction in yield. 


  1. Freitag D., Ballhorn L., Geyer H., Korte F., 1985. Environmental hazard profile of organic chemicals. Chemosphere. 14, 1589-1616.
  2. Ribes A., Grimalt J.O., Torres C.J., Cuevas E., 2003. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in mountain soils of the subtropical Atlantic. J Environ Qual. 32, 977-987.
  3. Everett K.R., 1978. Some effects of oil on the physical and chemical characteristics of wet Tundra soils. Arctic Inst North Am. 31(3), 260-276.
  4. Carr R.H., 1919. Vegetation growth in soils containing crude petroleum. Soil Sci.8, 67-68.
  5. Harper H.J.,1939. The effects of natural gas on the growth of microorganisms and the accumulation of nitrogen and organic matter in the soil. Soil Sci.48, 461-466.
  6. Schollenberger C.J.,1930. Effect of leaking natural gas upon soils. Soil Sci. 29, 261-266.
  7. Plice M.I., 1948. Some effects of crude petroleum on soil fertility. P Soil SciSoc Am.13, 413-416.
  8. Ekudanyo E.O., Obuekwe O.O., 2004. Effect of oil spill on soil physicochemical properties of a spill site in a Typical Udipsamment of Niger Delta basin of Nigeria. Environ Monit Assess. 60(2), 235-249.
  9. Iwegbue C.M.A., Nwajei G.E., Arimoro F.O., 2007. Characteristic level of total petroleum hydrocarbon in soil, sediment and surface water of an oil impacted area in the Niger Delta. Pak J SciInd Res. 50(4), 247-250.
  10. Chukwujindu M.A., Iwegbue E.S., Nwaje G.E., 2008. Characteristic levels of total petroleum hydrocarbon in soil profile of automobile mechanic waste dumps. Int J Soil Sci. 3(1), 48-51.
  11. Lal B., Sharma M.P., Bhattacharya D., Krishnan S., 2004. Assessment of intra species diversity among strains of Acinobacter baumannii isolated from sites contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons. Can J Microbiol. 50, 405-414.
  12. Pathak H., Jain P.K., Jaroli D.P. Lowry M.L., 2008. Degradation of phenanthrene and anthracene by Pseudomonas Strain, isolated from coastal area. Bioremediat J. 12, 111-116.
  13. Wang X., Yu X., Bartha R., 1990. Effect of bioremediation on poly cyclic aromatic hydrocarbon residues in soil. Environ Sci Technol. 24, 1086-1089.
  14. Desche A., Lafrance L.P., Villeneuve J.P., Samson R., 1996. Adding sodium dodecyl sulfate and Pseudomonas aeruginosa UG2 bio surfactants inhibits polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon biodegradation in a weathered creosote-contaminated soil. Appl Microboil Biotechnol. 46, 638-646.
  15. Wang Z., Fingas M., Shu Y.Y., Sigouin L., Landriault M., Lambert P., 1999. Quantitative characterization of PAHs in burn residue and soot samples and differentiation of pyrogenic PAHs from petrogenic PAHs the 1994 mobile burn study. Environ Sci Technol. 33, 3100-3109.
  16. Mastral A.M., Callén M., 2000. A review on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) emissions from energy generation. Environ Sci Technol. 34, 3051-3057.
  17. Marr L.C., Kirchstetter T.W., Harley R.A., Miguel A.H., Hering S.V., Hammond S.K., 1999. Characterizations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in motor vehicle fuels and exhaust emissions. Environ Sci Technol. 33, 3091-3099.
  18. Gundel J., Mannschreck C., Buttner K., Ewers U., Angerer J., 1996. Urinary levels of 1-hydroxypyrene, 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-hydroxyphenanthrene in females living in an industrial area of Germany. Arch Environ ContamToxicol. 31, 585-590.
  19. Koeber R.J., Bayona M., Niessner R., 1999. Determination of benzo [a] pyrenediones in air particulate matter with liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. Environ Sci Technol. 33, 1552-1558.
  20. Lim L.H., Harrison R.M., Harrad S., 1999.The contribution of traffic to atmospheric concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Environ Sci Technol. 33, 3538-3542.
  21. Heitkamp M.A., Cerniglia C.E., 1989. Poly-cyclic aromatic hydrocarbon degradation by a Mycobacterium sp. in microcosms containing sediment and water from a pristine ecosystem. Appl Environ Microbiol. 55, 1968 - 1973.
  22. Van Brummelen T.C., Verweij R.A., Wedzinga S.A., Van Gestel C.A.M., 1996. Enrichment of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in forest soils near a blast furnace plant. Chemosphere. 32, 293-314.
  23. Zeng E.Y., Vista C.L., 1997. Organic pollutants in the coastal environment off San Diego, California. 1. Source identification and assessment by compositional indices of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Environ Toxicol Chem. 16, 179-188.
  24. Ohkouchi N., Kawamura K., Kawahata H., 1999. Distributions of three to seven ring poly nuclear aromatic hydrocarbons on the deep sea floor in the central Pacific. Environ Sci Technol. 33, 3086-3090.
  25. Boxall A.B.A., Maltby L., 1997. The effects of motorway runoff on freshwater ecosystems: 3. Toxicant conformation. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 33, 9-16.
  26. Holman H.Y.N., Tsang Y.W., Holman W.R., 1999. Mineralization of sparsely water soluble polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in a water table fluctuation zone. Environ Sci Technol. 33, 1819-1824.
  27. Wagrowski D.M., Hites R.A., 1996. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon accumulation in urban, suburban, and rural vegetation. Environ Sci Technol. 31, 279-282.
  28. Sims R.C., Overcash M.R., 1983. Polynuclear aromatic compounds (PAHs) in soil plant systems. Residue Rev. 88, 1-68.
  29. Minai-Tehrani D., Herfatmanesh A., 2007. Biodegradation of aliphatic and aromatic fraction of heavy crude oil contaminated soil, A pilot study. Bioremediat J. 11(20), 71-76.
  30. Wegwu M.O., Uwakwe A.A., Anabi M.A., 2010. Efficacy of enhanced natural attenuation (land farming) technique in the remediation of crude oil-polluted agricultural land. Arch Appl Sci Res. 2(2), 431-442.
  31. Betancur-Galvis L.A., Alvarez-Bernal D., Ramos-Valdivia A.C., Dendooven L., 2006. Bioremediation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon-contaminated salineââ‚‌“alkaline soils of the former Lake Texcoco. Chemosphere. 62, 1749-1760.
  32. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 2004.Soil Survey Laboratory Methods Manual.United States Department of Agriculture, USA.
  33. Gee G.W., Bauder J.W., 1986. Particle-size analysis. In: Klute, A. (Ed.), Methods of Soil Analysis, Vol. 1, Agronomy Monograph, vol. 9. American Society of Agronomy, Madison, pp: 383-411.
  34. Nelson D.W., Sommers L.E., 1975. A rapid and accurate method for estimating organic carbon in soil. P Indian Acad Sci. 84, 456-462.
  35. Association of Official Analytical Chemists)
  36. AOAC), 2005.Methods of Analysis. Washington D.C.
  37. Gogoi B.K., Dutta N.N., Goswami P., Krishna Mohan T.R., 2003. A case study of bioremediation of petroleum hydrocarbon contaminated soil at a crude oil spill site. Adv Environ Res. 7, 767-782.
  38. Chorom M., Sharifi H.S., Motamedi H., 2010. Bioremediation of a crude oil-polluted soil by application of fertilizers, Iran. J Environ Health Sci Eng. 7(4), 319-326.
  39. American Public Health Association (APHA), 1998. Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater. 20th ed., APHA/AWWA/WEF: Washington, DC.
  40. Ujowundu C.O., Kalu F.N., Nwaoguikpe R.N., Kalu O.I., Ihejirika C.E., Nwosunjoku E.C., Okechukwu R.I., 2011. Biochemical and physical characterization of diesel petroleum contaminated soil in southeastern Nigeria. Res J Chem Sci. 1(8), 57-62.
  41. Christopher S., Hein P., Marsden J., Shurleff A.S., 1988. Evaluation of methods 3540 (soxhlet) and 3550 (Sonication) for evaluation of appendix IX analyses from solid samples. SCUBED, Report for EPA contract 68-03-33-75, work assignment No.03, Document No. SSS-R-88-9436.
  42. United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), 1984. Interalaboratory Comparison Stunt: Methods for volatile and semiââ‚‌“volatile compounds, Environmental monitoring systems laboratory, office of research and development, Las Vegas, NV, EPA. 600/4- 84- 027.
  43. Osuji L.C., Nwoye I., 2007. An appraisal of the impact of petroleum hydrocarbons on soil fertility: the Owaza experience. Afr J Agric Res. 2(7), 318-324.
  44. Atlas R.M., 1981. Microbial degradation of petroleum hydrocarbons. An Environmental perspective. Microb Rev. 45, 180-209.
  45. Obire O., Nwaubeta O., 2002. Effects of refined petroleum hydrocarbon on soil physicochemical and bacteriological characteristics. J Appl Sci Environ Manage. 6(1), 39-44.
  46. Odu C.T.I., Nwoboshi L.C., Esuruoso O.F., 1985. Environmental studies (soils and vegetation) of the Nigerian Agip Oil Company operation areas. In: Proceedings of an International Seminar on the Petroleum Industry and the Nigerian Environment, NNPC, Lagos, Nigeria. pp. 274-283.
  47. Fries N., Zhai J., Chee-Sanford J., Ticdje J.M., 1994. Isolation, charaterization, and distribution of denitrifying toluene degraders from a variety of habitats. Appl Environ Microbiol. 60, 2802-2810.
  48. Atlas R.M., Bartha R., 1997. Microbial Ecology Fundamentals and Principles, 4th Ed. Benjamin/Cummings Science Publishing Company, Menlo Park, CA, USA. pp. 511-573.
  49. Hupe K., Luth J.C., Heeranjlage J., Stegmann R., 1996. Enhancement of the biological degradation of soils contaminated with oil by the addition of the compost. Acta Biotechnol. 16(1), 19-30.
  50. Luepromchai E., Lertthamrongsak W., Pinphanichakarn P., Thaniyavarn S.P., Juntogjin K., 2007. Biodegradation of PAHs in petroleum-contaminated soil using tamarind leaves as microbial inoculums. J Sci Technol. 29, 515-527.
  51. Onianwa P.C., 1995. Petroleum hydrocarbon pollution of urban top soil in Ibadan city, Nigeria. Environ Int. 21(3), 341-343.
  52. Adeniyi A.A., Afolabi J.A., 2002. Determination of total petroleum hydrocarbons and heavy metals in soils within the vicinity of facilities handling refined petroleum products in Lagos metropolis. Environ Int. 28, 79-82.
  53. Li H., Zhang Y., Zhang C.G., Chen G.X., 2005. Effect of petroleum containing wastewater irrigation on bacterial diversities and enzymatic activities in a paddy soil irrigation area. J Environ Qual. 34, 1073-1080.
  54. Iturbe R., Flores R.M., Flores C.R., Torres L.G., 2004. TPH contaminated Mexican soil health risk assessment and the first year of changed. Environ Monit Assess. 91(1-3), 237-255.
  55. Saari E., Peramaki P., Jalonen J., 2007. Effect of sample matrix on the determination of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) in soil by gas chromatography-lame ionization detection. Microchem J. 87(2), 113-118.
  56. Dejong E., 1980. The effect of a crude oil spill on cereals. Environ Pollut. 22, 187-196.
  57. Yun T., Tianling Z., Xinhong W., 2003. PAHs contamination and PAH-degrading bacteria in Xiamen western sea, Chemical speciation and Bioavailability. Chem Spec Bioavailab. 14, 25-33.
  58. Kayode J., Oyedeji A.A., Olowoyo O., 2009. Evaluation of the effects of pollution with spent lubricating oil on the physical and chemical properties of soil. Pac J Sci Technol. 10(1), 387-390.