Chlorine Cycling in Terrestrial Environments
Abstract: Chlorinated organic compounds (Clorg) are produced naturally in soil. Formation and degradation of Clorg affect the chlorine (Cl) cycling in terrestrial environments and chlorine can be retained or released from soil. Cl is known to have the same behaviour as radioactive chlorine-36 (36Cl), a long-lived radioisotope with a half-life of 300,000 years. 36Cl attracts interest because of its presence in radioactive waste, making 36Cl a potential risk for humans and animals due to possible biological uptake. This thesis studies the distribution and cycling of chloride (Cl–) and Clorg in terrestrial environments by using laboratory controlled soil incubation studies and a forest field study. The results show higher amounts of Cl– and Clorg and higher chlorination rates in coniferous forest soils than in pasture and agricultural soils. Tree species is the most important factor regulating Cl– and Clorg levels, whereas geographical location, atmospheric deposition, and soil type are less important. The root zone was the most active site of the chlorination process. Moreover, this thesis confirms that bulk Clorg dechlorination rates are similar to, or higher than, chlorination rates and that there are at least two major Clorg pools, one being dechlorinated quickly and one remarkably slower. While chlorination rates were negatively influenced by nitrogen additions, dechlorination rates, seem unaffected by nitrogen. The results implicate that Cl cycling is highly active in soils and Cl– and Clorg levels result from a dynamic equilibrium between chlorination and dechlorination. Influence of tree species and the rapid and slow cycling of some Cl pools, are critical to consider in studies of Cl in terrestrial environments. This information can be used to better understand Cl in risk-assessment modelling including inorganic and organic 36Cl.
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