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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Heavy Metals in the Environment

Dissolution of Trace Element Contaminants from Two Coastal Plain Soils as Affected by pH


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 3, p. 891-901
    Received: May 23, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): dean_hesterberg@ncsu.edu
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  1. JiSu Bang and
  2. Dean Hesterberg *
  1. Department of Soil Science, North Carolina State University, Box 7619, Raleigh, NC 27695-7619


Trace element mobility in soils depends on contaminant concentration, chemical speciation, water movement, and soil matrix properties such as mineralogy, pH, and redox potential. Our objective was to characterize trace element dissolution in response to acidification of soil samples from two abandoned incinerators in the North Carolina Coastal Plain. Trace element concentrations in 11 soil samples from both sites ranged from 2 to 46 mg Cu kg−1, 3 to 105 mg Pb kg−1, 1 to 102 mg Zn kg−1, 3 to 11 mg Cr kg−1, <0.1 to 10 mg As kg−1, and <0.01 to 0.9 mg Cd kg−1 Acidified CaCl2 solutions were passed through soil columns to bring the effluent solution to approximately pH 4 during a 280-h flow period. Maximum concentrations of dissolved Cu, Pb, and Zn at the lowest pH of an experiment (pH 3.8–4.1) were 0.32 mg Cu L−1, 0.11 mg Pb L−1, and 1.3 mg Zn L−1 for samples from the site with well-drained soils, and 0.25 mg Cu L−1, 1.2 mg Pb L−1, and 1.4 mg Zn L−1 for samples from the site with more poorly drained soils. Dissolved Cu concentration at pH 4 increased linearly with increasing soil Cu concentration, but no such relationship was found for Zn. Dissolved concentrations of other trace elements were below our analytical detection limits. Synchrotron X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy showed that Cr and As were in their less mobile Cr(III) and As(V) oxidation states. XANES analysis of Cu and Zn on selected samples indicated an association of Cu(II) with soil organic matter and Zn(II) with Al- and Fe-oxides or franklinite.

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