Modelling the Fate of Chemicals in Soils

  • Philippe CiffroyEmail author
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 57)


A good knowledge and modelling of the fate of chemicals in soil is essential for achieving a holistic risk assessment approach. This chapter describes the processes that should be considered in models simulating the fate of chemicals in natural soils. The first section describes the exchange of chemicals between soil particles and soil porewater. The second section describes downward infiltration of dissolved chemicals in the soil depth profile. It requires the simulation of water mass balance in soil that is assumed to be governed by inputs/outputs of water in the soil system, i.e. rainfall, irrigation, evapotranspiration, downward infiltration and upward capillarity. A retardation factor incorporates adsorption of chemicals on soil particles. The third section describes absorption and volatilization of SVOCs at the air-soil interface, which can be simulated using the stagnant two-film model. The forth section describes bioturbation in soils, i.e. the disturbance of soil layers by biological activity. The fifth section describes diffusion of chemicals along the vertical soil profile that is governed by the general 1D transport model. The sixth section describes wash-off of chemicals from soils, i.e. the transport of chemicals in water flowing over the soil surface and finally reaching surface water systems. The seventh section describes processes responsible for degradation (i.e. hydrolysis, photolysis, biodegradation), which may be aggregated in a global loss rate.


Advection Bioturbation Degradation Desorption Diffusion Infiltration Modelling Retardation factor Soil Soil porewater Sorption Wash-off Water mass balance 


  1. 1.
    CLARINET (2002) Contaminated Land Rehabilitation Network for Environmental Technologies. Sustainable Management of contaminated land: an overview. A report from the Contaminated Land Rehabilitation Network for Environmental TechnologiesGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    EEA, European Environment Agency (2000) Management of contaminated sites in Western Europe, Copenhagen, DenmarkGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Barrios E (2007) Soil biota, ecosystem services and land productivity. Ecol Econ 64(2):269–285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Abrahams PW (2002) Soils: their implications to human health. Sci Total Environ 291(1–3):1–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Ter Laak TL, Gebbink WA, Tolls J (2006) Estimation of soil sorption coefficients of veterinary pharmaceuticals from soil properties. Environ Toxicol Chem 25:933–941CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Panagos P, Hiederer R, Van Liedekerke M, Bampa F (2013) Estimating soil organic carbon in Europe based on data collected through an European network. Ecol Indic 24:439–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Loizeau V, Ciffroy P, Roustan Y, Musson-Genon L (2014) Identification of sensitive parameters in the modeling of SVOC reemission processes from soil to atmosphere. Sci Total Environ 93:419–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Allen RG, Pereira LS, Raes D, Smith M (1998) Crop evapotranspiration – guidelines for computing crop water requirements. FAO Irrigation and drainage paper 56. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy, ISBN 92-5-104219-5Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Donatelli M, Wösten JHM, Belocchi G (2004) Methods to evaluate pedotransfer functions. Elsevier. EFSA J 622:1–32Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Baes CF, Sharp RD (1983) A proposal for estimation of soil leaching and leaching constants for use in assessment models. J Environ Qual 12(1):17–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Wania F, Mackay D (1996) Tracking the distribution of persistent organic pollutants. Environ Sci Technol 30:390A–396ACrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Backe C, Cousins IT, Larsson P (2003) PCB in soils and estimated soil–air exchange fluxes of selected PCB congeners in the south of Sweden. Environ Pollut 128:59–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Dalla Valle M, Sweetman AJ, Dachs J, Jones KC (2004) The maximum reservoir capacity for vegetation: implications for global cycling. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 18:GB4032CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Dalla Valle M, Jurado E, Dachs J, Sweetman AJ, Jones KC (2005) The maximum reservoir capacity of soils for persistent organic pollutants: implications for global cycling. Environ Pollut 134:153–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Sweetman AJ, Jones KC (2000) Declining PCB concentrations in the UK atmosphere: evidence and possible causes. Environ Sci Technol 34:863–869CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Sweetman AJ, Cousins IT, Seth R, Jones KC, Mackay D (2002) A dynamic Level IV multimedia environmental model: application to the fate of PCBs in the United Kingdom over a 40-year period. Environ Toxicol Chem 21:930–940CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Meijer SN, Ockenden WA, Sweetman A, Breivik K, Grimalt JO, Jones KC (2003) Global distribution and budget of PCBs and HCB in background surface soils: implications for sources and environmental processes. Environ Sci Technol 37:667–672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Hornbuckle KC, Eisenreich SJ (1996) Dynamics of gaseous semivolatile organic compounds in a terrestrial ecosystem – effects of diurnal and seasonal climate variations. Atmos Environ 30(23):3935–3945CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Lee RGM, Hung H, Mackay D, Jones KC (1998) Measurement and modeling of the diurnal cycling of atmospheric PCBs and PAHs. Environ Sci Technol 32:2172–2179CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Davie-Martin CL, Hageman KJ, Chin YP (2013) An improved screening tool for predicting volatilization of pesticides applied to soils. Environ Sci Technol 47(2):868–876CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    McKone TE (1996) Alternative modeling approaches for contaminant fate in soils: uncertainty, variability, and reliability. Reliab Eng Syst Saf 54:165–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Millington RJ, Quirk JP (1961) Permeability of porous solids. Trans Faraday Soc 57:1200–1207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Ten Hulscher TE, Van Der Velde L, Bruggeman W (1992) Temperature dependence of Henry’s law constants for selected chlorobenzenes, polychlorinated biphenyls and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Environ Toxicol Chem 11:1595–1603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Wesely ML, Hicks BB (2000) A review of the current status of knowledge on dry deposition. Atmos Environ 34(12–14):2261–2282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Farenhorst A, Topp E, Bowman BT, Tomlin AD (2000) Earthworm burrowing and feeding activity and the potential for atrazine transport by preferential flow. Soil Biol Biochem 32:479–488CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Müller-Lemans H, Van Dorp F (1996) Bioturbation as a mechanism for radionuclide transport in soil: relevance of earthworms. J Environ Radioact 31(1):7–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    McLachlan M, Czub G, Wania F (2002) The influence of vertical sorbed phase transport on the fate of organic chemicals in surface soils. Environ Sci Technol 36:4860–4867CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Cousins IT, Mackay D, Jones KC (1999) Measuring and modeling the vertical distribution of semivolatile organic compounds in soils. II: model development. Chemosphere 39(14):2519–2534CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Rodriguez M (2006) The bioturbation transport of chemicals in surface soils. A Thesis Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical CollegeGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Garcia-Sanchez L (2008) Watershed wash-off of atmospherically deposited radionuclides: review of the fluxes and their evolution with time. J Environ Radioact 99(4):563–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    USDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture (1986) Urban hydrology for small watersheds. Technical report 55, USDA, NRCSGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    EFSA, European Food Safety Authority (2007) Opinion on a request from EFSA related to the default Q10 value used to describe the temperature effect on transformation rates of pesticides in soil1 scientific opinion of the panel on plant protection products and their residues (PPR-Panel). EFSA J 622:1–32Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EDF R&D, National Hydraulics and Environment LaboratoryChatouFrance

Personalised recommendations