Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in soil have been recognised as a serious health and environmental issue due to their carcinogenic, mutagenic and teratogenic properties. One of the commonly employed soil remediation techniques to clean up such contamination is soil washing or solvent extraction. The main factor which governs the efficiency of this process is the solubility of PAHs in the extraction agent. Past field-scale soil washing treatments for PAH-contaminated soil have mainly employed organic solvents or water which is either toxic and costly or inefficient in removing higher molecular weight PAHs. Thus, the present article aims to provide a review and discussion of the alternative extraction agents that have been studied, including surfactants, biosurfactants, microemulsions, natural surfactants, cyclodextrins, vegetable oil and solution with solid phase particles. These extraction agents have been found to remove PAHs from soil at percentages ranging from 47 to 100% for various PAHs.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.