American Society of Civil Engineers

Sorption of Tertiary Butyl Mercaptan to Indoor Materials in Contact with Air or Water

by Aruna Suravajala, (Grad. Student, Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Kansas State Univ., Manhattan, KS 66506), Larry E. Erickson, (Prof., Dept. of Chem. Engrg., Kansas State Univ., Manhattan, KS 66506), and Alok Bhandari, (corresponding author), M.ASCE, (Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Kansas State Univ., Manhattan, KS 66506 E-mail:

Journal of Environmental Engineering, Vol. 134, No. 3, March 2008, pp. 161-168, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: This study reports sorption of the malodorant 2-methyl-2-propanethiol, commonly known as tertiary butyl mercaptan (TBM), to selected indoor materials. The phase distribution of TBM in gas-solid and aqueous-solid systems was evaluated using batch reactors. Sorbents used in the study included two carpets, two wallpapers, a soil, and granular activated carbon (GAC). Sorption was studied for gaseous and aqueous TBM concentrations spanning three orders of magnitude and contact times ranging from 1 to 28 days. The phase distribution data were plotted and fitted using linear and Freundlich relationships. Results indicated that all solids sorbed environmentally significant quantities of TBM, with the likelihood of producing concentrations above the odor threshold during subsequent remediation using mechanical ventilation. TBM retention by sorbents was greater from air than from water. The malodorant partitioned readily into wallpapers and slowly into the carpet materials. Sorption was nonlinear in the case of GAC and the nonlinearity appeared to increase with sorption contact time. GAC sorbed TBM strongly from both air and water.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Activated carbon
Indoor environmental quality