Ex situ evaluation of the effects of biochars on environmental and toxicological availabilities of metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons

  • Adeline JanusEmail author
  • Christophe Waterlot
  • Francis Douay
  • Aurélie Pelfrêne
Research Article


The present study experimented five biochars, one made from wood (400 °C, 12 h) and four made from miscanthus cultivated on contaminated soils (temperature 400/600 °C, duration 45/90 min). They were used as amendments at a 2% application rate on soil, cultivated or not cultivated with ryegrass, contaminated with (i) metals (Cd, Pb, and Zn), (ii) eight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and (iii) a mix of metals and PAHs. The objectives were (i) to compare the effectiveness of the five biochars on soil parameters and pollutant availability and (ii) to determine the influence of soil multicontamination and ryegrass cultivation on biochar effectiveness. The results showed that biochar application did not necessarily lead to lower pollutant extractability and metal bioaccessibility. However, differences were highlighted between the biochars. The miscanthus biochars produced at 600 °C (BM600) showed higher effectiveness at decreasing metal extractability than the miscanthus biochars produced at 400 °C (BM400) due to its better sorption characteristics. In addition, ryegrass cultivation did not impact pollutant availability but modified metal bioaccessibility, especially for the soil amended with the BM600 and the woody biochar. Moreover, the presence of PAHs also negatively impacted the metal bioaccessibility in the soil amended with the BM600, and, on the contrary, positively impacted it in the soil amended with the BM400. Complementary studies are therefore necessary to understand the mechanisms involved, particularly in a context where soils requiring remediation operations are often multicontaminated and vegetated.


Biochar Miscanthus Metals PAHs Ryegrass cultivation Multicontamination Environmental availability Toxicological availability 



The authors wish to thank Sophie Heymans and Christophe Deboffe for their implication in this project and the CIRAD for the production and characterization of the biochars. The authors also warmly thank Julien Dassonneville, Sarah Descamps, and David Khatchatryan for the technical assistance provided.

Funding information

The authors wish to thank the Hauts-de-France Regional Council for the financial support of this research.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire Génie Civil et géoEnvironnement (LGCgE)Yncréa Hauts-de-FranceLille cedexFrance

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