Biodegradation of phenol was observed in unsaturated sand-bed columns, in which phenol concentration declined from 298 mg phenol/kg sand to less than 1 mg/kg after 21 days. In saturated sand-bed columns, phenol concentration declined from 230 mg phenol/kg to less than 1 mg/kg after
37 days. Pseudo-first-order phenol biodegradation rates were in the range 0.25 days −1 ( R2 = 0.9) to 0.66 days −1 ( R2 = 0.85) and 0.08 days −1 ( R2 =
0.68) to 0.14 days −1 ( R2 = 0.84) in the unsaturated and saturated sand-bed columns, respectively. Unsaturated columns presented a higher biomass density (21.5 mg/g) in the sand-bed and lower biomass concentration in the aqueous phase (3.5 NTU) compared
with the saturated columns (6.4 mg/g and 14.0 NTU). A high concentration of phenol releases in the sand-bed columns resulted in an initial inhibition of microbial activity and destabilization of the attached biomass.
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