SEGH Articles

Ozone as a remediation technique for the treatment of hydrocarbons in post industrial sites in Glasgow

01 November 2011
Andrew Robson was a runner up for the Springer / Hemphill Best student Oral presentation at SEGH 2011.


This project was aimed at proving the viability for the use of ozone as a remediation technology for a contaminated site located on the West Coast of Scotland.  While there are plenty of documented laboratory based studies on the use of ozone for the treatment of contaminated land, there are few real world examples documented from the UK and even less looking at the particular environmental factors encountered on the West Coast of Scotland. 

The site used for this study was a coastal site, the soil predominately clay based although towards the coastal edge it is infilled. Previously the site was used as an oil refinery but has now been identified for redevelopment for housing, offices and parkland. Previous usage has left the site heavily contaminated with a range of Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), Alkenes and heavy metals, all of which have the potential to cause serious health issues if left untreated when the site is redeveloped, some of the contaminants have been linked to developmental issues in children, as well as a range of potential carcinogenic compounds. 

The study treated samples from the site with Ozone over a range of times and then measured the concentration of selected marker Polyaromatic hydrocarbons to identify the impact of the ozone on these to confirm that the Ozone had the ability to breakdown the PAH's.  Over time it was shown that all of these compounds showed a reduction in concentration with ozone treatment, although the degree of degradation varied between the different marker compounds.

The Ozone had no direct impact on the levels of the heavy metals, but has the potential to oxidise to less toxic oxidation states. An unexpected finding identified by the study was the impact the ozone had on the physical nature of the predominantly clay based soil. The ozone has had the affect of driving the water content from the clay as well as reducing the hydrocarbon content and in the samples a 12% reduction of soil volume was seen in a 6 hour application.  The engineering implications of this for the redevelopment of a treated clay site being the need for additional top soil as well as a re-evaluation of the geophysical properties of the treated material.

Andrew Robson is a MRes student studying at the David Livingstone Centre for Sustainability, at the University of Strathclyde, and is sponsored by Parsons Brinckerhoff under a industry sponsorship scheme .


The Study is a joint project with industry involving two partners, Parsons Brinckerhoff,  who as well as sponsoring the Masters course also offer industrial knowledge and advice to the project and ERS Land Regeneration who have allowed access to the  site and to their laboratory facilities and have helped out with some of the more practical challenges.

Andrew Robson1, Christine Switzer1, Jamie Robinson2 , Thomas Asprey3 ,Helen Keenan1

1DLCS, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Strathclyde

2Parsons Brinckerhoff, Queen Victoria House, Bristol BS6 6US

3 ERS Land Regeneration  Westerhill Road , Bishopbriggs, Glasgow. G64 2QH   


Keep up to date

Submit Content

Members can keep in touch with their colleagues through short news and events articles of interest to the SEGH community.

Science in the News

Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

  • The society for environmental Geochemistry and health (SEGH): a retrospect 2019-02-22
  • Air quality and PM 10 -associated poly-aromatic hydrocarbons around the railway traffic area: statistical and air mass trajectory approaches 2019-02-19


    Diesel engine railway traffic causes atmosphere pollution due to the exhaust emission which may be harmful to the passengers as well as workers. In this study, the air quality and PM10 concentrations were evaluated around a railway station in Northeast India where trains are operated with diesel engines. The gaseous pollutant (e.g. SO2, NO2, and NH3) was collected and measured by using ultraviolet–visible spectroscopy. The advanced level characterizations of the PM10 samples were carried out by using ion chromatography, Fourier-transform infrared, X-ray diffraction, inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry , X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, field-emission scanning electron microscopy with energy-dispersive spectroscopy, and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy with energy-dispersive spectroscopy techniques to know their possible environmental contaminants. High-performance liquid chromatography technique was used to determine the concentration of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons to estimate the possible atmospheric pollution level caused by the rail traffic in the enclosure. The average PM10 concentration was found to be 262.11 µg m−3 (maximum 24 hour) which indicates poor air quality (AQI category) around the rail traffic. The statistical and air mass trajectory analysis was also done to know their mutual correlation and source apportionment. This study will modify traditional studies where only models are used to simulate the origins.

  • The geochemistry of geophagic material consumed in Onangama Village, Northern Namibia: a potential health hazard for pregnant women in the area 2019-02-18


    Ingestion of geophagic materials might affect human health and induce diseases by different ways. The purpose of this study is to determine the geochemical composition of geophagic material consumed especially by pregnant women in Onangama Village, Northern Namibia and to assess its possible health effects. X-ray fluorescence and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry were used in order to determine the major, and trace elements as well as anions concentrations of the consumed material. The geochemical analysis revealed high concentrations of aluminium (Al), calcium (Ca), iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), manganese (Mn), potassium (K), sodium (Na), and silica (Si); and trace elements including arsenic (As), chromium (Cr), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni) and vanadium (V) as well as sulphate (SO42−), nitrate (NO3), and nitrite (NO2) anions comparing to the recommended daily allowance for pregnant women. The pH for some of the studied samples is alkaline, which might increase the gastrointestinal tract pH (pH < 2) and cause a decrease in the bioavailability of elements. The calculated health risk index (HRI > 1) revealed that Al and Mn might be a potential risk for human consumption. Based on the results obtained from the geochemical analysis, the consumption of the studied material might present a potential health risk to pregnant women including concomitant detrimental maternal and foetal effects.