Sorption and transport of sulfamethazine in agricultural soils amended with invasive-plant-derived biochar

Meththika Vithanage, Anushka Upamali Rajapaksha, Xiangyu Tang, Sören Thiele-Bruhn, Kye Hoon Kim, Sung Eun Lee, Yong Sik Ok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Citations (Scopus)


Sulfonamides (SAs) are one of the most frequently used antibiotics in the veterinary industry, showing high mobility in soils. Objectives of this research were to determine the sorption, distribution coefficients and involvement of different ionic forms of sulfamethazine (SMZ), a representative SAs, and to evaluate the transport of SMZ in biochar treated soils. Biochars were produced from an invasive plant, burcucumber (Sicyos angulatus L.), under slow pyrolysis conditions at peak temperatures of 300°C (biochar-300) and 700°C (biochar-700), respectively. The abilities of the biochars to retain SMZ in loamy sand and sandy loam soils were examined under different pHs and SMZ loadings. Soil column experiments were performed with and without biochars addition. Results showed that biochar-700 had a high degree of SMZ retention, with resultant decreased pH in both soils. Modeled effective sorption coefficients (KD,eff) values indicated that the observed high SMZ retention at pH 3 could be attributed to the π-π electron donor-acceptor interaction and electrostatic cation exchange, whereas at pH 5 and 7, cation exchange was the main mechanisms responsible. There was no temporal retardation of SMZ in biochar treated soil as compared to the untreated soil. However, biochar-700 treatment achieved up to 89% and 82% increase in the SMZ retention in sandy loam and loamy sand soils, respectively. The overall results demonstrated that burcucumber biochar produced at higher temperature was effective in reducing the mobility of SMZ in the studied soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-103
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Aug 1
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is fully supported by the Korea Ministry of Environment as Geo-Advanced Innovative Action Project ( G112-00056-0004-0 ). Instrumental analyses were supported by the Korea Basic Science Institute , the Environmental Research Institute and the Central Laboratory of Kangwon National University, Korea . The Ministry of Technology and Research in Sri Lanka partially supported the first author.


  • Biosorption
  • Black carbon
  • Charcoal
  • Emerging contaminants
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Soil organic matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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