Environmentally acceptable effect of hydrogen peroxide on cave “lamp-flora”, calcite speleothems and limestones
Mosses, algae, and cyanobacteria (lamp-flora) colonize illuminated areas in show caves. This biota is commonly removed by a sodium hypochlorite solution. Because chlorine and other deleterious compounds are released into a cave environment during lamp-flora cleansing, hydrogen peroxide was tested as an alternative agent. In a multidisciplinary study conducted in the Kateřinská Cave (Moravian Karst, Czech Republic), 12 algae- and cyanobacteria taxons and 19 moss taxons were detected. The threshold hydrogen peroxide concentration for the destruction of this lamp-flora was found to be 15 vol.%. Based on laboratory experiments in stirred batch reactors, the dissolution rates of limestones and calcite speleothems in water were determined as 3.77×10−3 and 1.81×10−3 mol m−2 h−1, respectively. In the 15% peroxide solution, the limestone and speleothem dissolution rates were one order of magnitude higher, 2.00×10−2 and 2.21×10−2 mol m−2 h−1, respectively. So, the peroxide solution was recognised to attack carbonates somewhat more aggressively than karst water. In order to prevent the potential corrosion of limestone and speleothems, the reaching of preliminary peroxide saturation with respect to calcite is recommended, for example, by adding of few limestone fragments into the solution at least 10 h prior to its application.