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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 15 No. 3, p. 214-219
    Received: Aug 12, 1985

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Competitive Adsorption of Heavy Metals by Soils1

  1. H. A. Elliott,
  2. M. R. Liberati and
  3. C. P. Huang2



The competitive adsorption of Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn from 0.025 M NaClO4 solutions onto four soils with differing chemical properties was investigated with batch adsorption experiments. For two mineral soils, adsorption under acidic conditions (pH 5.0) followed the sequence Pb > Cu > Zn > Cd, which corresponds to the order of increasing pK for the first hydrolysis product (e.g., PhOH+) of the metal ions. In contrast, the order of selectivity for two soils containing 20 to 40 g kg−1 organic C was Pb > Cu > Cd > Zn, suggesting that organic matter (OM) increased Cd retention preferentially over that of Zn. When accompanied by a sizable reduction in cation exchange capacity (CEC), extraction of soil OM markedly reduced adsorption of all four metals. However, only Cd and Cu adsorption were appreciably smaller for a soil that maintained a sizable CEC following OM removal. Lead, and possibly Zn, adsorption by soils with substantial inorganic exchange sites may be unresponsive to organic waste amendments. For Cd and Cu, increased soil OM should restrict mobility and bioavailability, at least under acidic conditions where soluble metal complex formation is limited.

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