Zohre Kurt 1,2 , Carlos A.

Donado M. 1,3


1. Instituto de Investigaciones Científicas y Servicios de Alta Tecnología de Panamá,

2. Universidad de Panamá, 3. La Universidad Santa María La Antigua


Most of the microbial activity happens at the interfaces where electron donors and electron acceptors intersect and redox gradients are formed. Previous studies demonstrated a tremendous potential for biodegradation at an oxic/ anoxic interface and capillary fringes in the unsaturated layer where subsurface volatile contaminant plumes emerge into surface water or soil. These studies showed that natural attenuation in the oxic/ anoxic interfaces and capillary fringes is sufficient to protect the overlying water and air from volatile and even non-volatile contamination. The current research aims to determine the extent to which agricultural contaminants in groundwater are transported to and biodegraded in the capillary fringe.

Panama is a country that relies on its natural resources, which lacks detoxification studies for its water and soil. Such studies could not only determine the footprint of toxic chemicals that are present but also could benefit the country to develop innovative bioremediation solutions that relieve toxic chemicals from the environment. Panama faced an atrazine contamination at Los Santos province that affected not only the lives of farmers but everyone that used the water. Atrazine contamination seems to find its cause in extensive use in the agriculture. Therefore, the most likely source of contamination is from soil and water. Environmental activities like rain make it difficult to detect the amount and frequency of contamination. Even though its biodegradation has been established, atrazine is still a contaminant that is detected in rural groundwater and no tools were developed to detect its biodegradation. This study estimates the capacity of microbial biodegradation in the unsaturated zone and determines the limits and restrictions of natural attenuation of atrazine biodegradation via laboratory experiments and modeling that includes the environmental factors and microbial activities.

The results of the study are useful to evaluate the danger and effects of contamination due to agricultural activities.

3ra Edición 2016
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