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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Heavy Metals in the Environment

Sorption and Biodegradability of Sludge Bacterial Extracellular Polymers in Soil and Their Influence on Soil Copper Behavior


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 1, p. 154-162
    Received: Aug 7, 2002

    * Corresponding author(s): lxzhou@njau.edu.cn
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  1. L. X. Zhou *,
  2. S. G. Zhou and
  3. X. H. Zhan
  1. College of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China


Bacterial extracellular polymers (BEP) affect the translocation and fate of organic and inorganic pollutants in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In this study, BEP from activated sludge was compared with sludge dissolved organic matter (DOM) in terms of behavior and effects on the mobilization and bioavailability of Cu in a well-aged Cu-contaminated orchard sandy loam. Addition of sludge BEP (10–200 mg dissolved organic carbon [DOC] L−1) to the soil resulted in 1.6- to 12.8-fold-higher soil soluble Cu concentration over the control and 1.3- to 2.2-fold over sludge DOM of the same concentration. Consequently, the Cu uptake by the ryegrass (Lolium perenne L., cv. Target) grown in the soil was increased by 31% due to interval watering of 100 mg DOC L−1 of sludge BEP solution in a 35-d period. The influence of sludge BEP on mobilizing soil Cu could be maintained as long as 60 d or more, depending on BEP biodegradation status. The findings that sludge BEP promoted Cu mobilization and bioavailability could be attributed to less adsorption of BEP by soil, slow degradation, and higher affinity with Cu. For example, after 3 wk of aerobic incubation, the soluble Cu present in the sludge DOM-treated soil was reduced to about the level of the control, while the concentration of soluble Cu in BEP-treated soil was 6.2 times higher than that in the control. Therefore, sludge BEP could act as a facilitated-transport carrier of Cu. The environmental risk of Cu should receive much attention if BEP is incorporated into soils.

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