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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Heavy Metals in the Environment

Copper Availability in Seven Israeli Soils Incubated with and without Biosolids


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 34 No. 2, p. 508-513
    Received: July 5, 2004

    * Corresponding author(s): i.oliver@csiro.au
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  1. I. W. Oliver *a,
  2. A. Hassb,
  3. G. Merringtonc,
  4. P. Fineb and
  5. M. J. McLaughlinad
  1. a Soil & Land Systems, University of Adelaide, PMB 1 Glen Osmond, South Australia, Australia 5064
    b Institute of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, Volcani Centre, POB 6 Bet Dagan, 50250 Israel
    c Environment Agency, Chemicals Team, Howbery Park, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BD, United Kingdom
    d Division of Land & Water, CSIRO, PMB 2 Glen Osmond, South Australia, Australia 5064


Land application is becoming a preferred option for disposal of sewage sludge (biosolids) from wastewater treatment plants. However, it creates potential risks due to the heavy metal contents of these materials, with copper (Cu) being of chief concern. The long-term fate of biosolid metals applied to agricultural soils is not well understood, particularly in the soils of the Middle East. This investigation was conducted to determine whether the availability of Cu changes with time in biosolid-amended and nonamended soils from Israel. Seven soils, typifying the span of properties and formation environments encountered in Israel, were incubated with and without biosolids for 7 yr, and changes in organic carbon (OC) content and labile Cu concentration were determined. Isotopic exchange techniques, using 64Cu, and ion activity measurements, using a Cu2+ ion selective electrode, revealed that the available Cu concentration remained relatively low and stable over the 7-yr incubation. This was despite substantial reductions in OC. This study shows that, with regard to Cu, application of such biosolids to these soils at rates of up to 250 Mg ha−1 does not pose a threat to the environment in the short to medium term.

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