Carbon aliphatic hydrocarbons are major organic pollutants present in groundwater and soil. Organic contaminants are subject to degradation without human intervention (natural attenuation). 1,2-Dchloroethane (DCA) was taken as model compound to characterize the natural biotiv and abiotic degradation processes takin place in a contaminanted field site. Previous results of microcosm experiments, containing contaminated gorundwater and soil, were combined with compound-specific stable isotope analysis (CSIA) to prove DCA degradation and to characterize the different degradation pathways. Two different reaction processes were involved in the degradation of DCA; reductive dechlorination for batches with addition of molasses at pH=7 and alklaine dehydrohalogenation for batches kept at pH= 11.3, which wre confirmed by stable isotope analysis. Batch experiments were performed to confirm the natural occurrence of alkaline dehydrohalogenation and, fractionation and enrichment factors were determined for all the experiments and compared with literature results. Alkaline dehydrohalogenation of DCA is a natural abiotic process, leading to the production of vinyl chloride (VC), which is even more toxic than DCA itself. It is known to be a slow process, but it should be taken into account in long-term degradation studies
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