Adaptation of a constructed wetland to simultaneous treatment of monochlorobenzene and perchloroethene

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • M. Braeckevelt - , Chair of Urban Water Management, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Author)
  • E. M. Seeger - , Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Author)
  • H. Paschke - , Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Author)
  • P. Kuschk - , Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Author)
  • M. Kaestner - , Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Author)


Mixed groundwater contaminations by chlorinated volatile organic compounds (VOC) cause environmental hazards if contaminated groundwater discharges into surfacewaters and river floodplains. Constructed wetlands (CW) or engineered natural wetlands provide a promising technology for the protection of sensitive water bodies.We adapted a constructed wetland able to treat monochlorobenzene (MCB) contaminated groundwater to a mixture of MCB and tetrachloroethene (PCE), representing low and high chlorinated model VOC. Simultaneous treatment of both compounds was efficient after an adaptation time of 2 1/2 years. Removal of MCB was temporarily impaired by PCE addition, but after adaptation a MCB concentration decrease of up to 64% (55.3 μmol L -1) was observed. Oxygen availability in the rhizosphere was relatively low, leading to sub-optimal MCB elimination but providing also appropriate conditions for PCE dechlorination. PCE and metabolites concentration patterns indicated a very slow system adaptation. However, under steady state conditions complete removal of PCE inflow concentrations of 10-15 μmol L -1 was achieved with negligible concentrations of chlorinated metabolites in the outflow. Recovery of total dechlorination metabolite loads corresponding to 100%, and ethene loads corresponding to 30% of the PCE inflow load provided evidence for complete reductive dechlorination, corroborated by the detection of Dehalococcoides sp.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)998-1013
Number of pages16
JournalInternational journal of phytoremediation
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011

External IDs

PubMed 21972567
ORCID /0009-0001-5656-0053/work/145224073



  • Chlorinated solvents, Groundwater-surface water interface, Microbial degradation, Phytoremediation, Reductive dechlorination