Phytotoxicity and groundwater impacts of leaching from thermal treatment residues in roadways

Khamphe Phoungthong , Li-Ming Shao , Pin-Jing He , Hua Zhang


Received April 29, 2016,Revised November 13, 2016, Accepted November 18, 2016, Available online December 05, 2016

Volume 30,2018,Pages 58-67

The use of coal fly ash (CFA), municipal solid waste incinerator bottom ash (MSWIBA) and flue gas desulfurization residue (FGDR) in road construction has become very common owing to its economical advantages. However, these residues may contain toxic constituents that pose an environmental risk if they leach out and flow through the soil, surface water and groundwater. Therefore, it is necessary to assess the ecotoxicity and groundwater impact of these residues before decisions can be made regarding their utilization for road construction. In this study, the physico-chemical characteristics, leaching and phytotoxicity of these residues were investigated. Specifically, multivariate analyses were used to evaluate the contributions of the leaching constituents of the CFA, MSWIBA and FGDR leachates to the germination index of wheat seeds. B, Ba, Cr, Cu, Fe and Pb were found to be more toxic to the wheat seeds than the other heavy metals. Furthermore, the leached concentrations of the constituents from the CFA, MSWIBA and FGDR were below the regulatory threshold limits of the Chinese identification standard for hazardous wastes. Analyses conducted using a numerical groundwater model (WiscLEACH) indicated that the predicted field concentrations of metals from the CFA, MSWIBA and FGDR increased with time up to about 30 years at the point of compliance, then decreased with time and distance. Overall, this study demonstrated that the risks resulting from MSWIBA, CFA and FGDR leaching could be assessed before its utilization for road construction, providing crucial information for the adoption of these alternative materials.

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