Persistence and dioxin-like toxicity of carbazole and chlorocarbazoles in soil

John Mumbo, Bernhard Henkelmann, Ahmed Abdelaziz, Gerd Pfister, Nghia Nguyen, Reiner Schroll, Jean Charles Munch, Karl Werner Schramm

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71 Scopus citations


Halogenated carbazoles have recently been detected in soil and water samples, but their environmental effects and fate are unknown. Eighty-four soil samples obtained from a site with no recorded history of pollution were used to assess the persistence and dioxin-like toxicity of carbazole and chlorocarbazoles in soil under controlled conditions for 15 months. Soil samples were divided into two temperature conditions, 15 and 20 °C, both under fluctuating soil moisture conditions comprising 19 and 44 drying–rewetting cycles, respectively. This was characterized by natural water loss by evaporation and rewetting to −15 kPa. Accelerated solvent extraction (ASE) and cleanup were performed after incubation. Identification and quantification were done using high-resolution gas chromatogram/mass spectrometer (HRGC/MS), while dioxin-like toxicity was determined by ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) induction in H4IIA rat hepatoma cells assay and multidimensional quantitative structure–activity relationships (mQSAR) modelling. Carbazole, 3-chlorocarbazole and 3,6-dichlorocarbazole were detected including trichlorocarbazole not previously reported in soils. Carbazole and 3-chlorocarbazole showed significant dissipation at 15 °C but not at 20 °C incubating conditions indicating that low temperature could be suitable for dissipation of carbazole and chlorocarbazoles. 3,6-Dichlorocarbazole was resistant at both conditions. Trichlorocarbazole however exhibited a tendency to increase in concentration with time. 3-Chlorocarbazole, 3,6-dibromocarbazole and selected soil extracts exhibited EROD activity. Dioxin-like toxicity did not decrease significantly with time, whereas the sum chlorocarbazole toxic equivalence concentrations (∑TEQ) did not contribute significantly to the soil assay dioxin-like toxicity equivalent concentrations (TCDD-EQ). Carbazole and chlorocarbazoles are persistent with the latter also toxic in natural conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1344-1356
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Bromocarbazole and chlorocarbazole
  • Carbazole
  • Dissipation
  • EROD
  • Persistence
  • Temperature
  • Toxicity
  • mQSAR


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