Water incubation-induced fluctuating release of heavy metals in two smelter-contaminated soils

Bin Yang , Yunzhe Cao , Jie Ren , Mei Wang , Huilong Luo , Fasheng Li


Received October 01, 2018,Revised , Accepted February 26, 2019, Available online March 06, 2019

Volume 31,2019,Pages 14-23

The soil moisture regime can affect the release of heavy metals in soil. In the previous studies, slightly polluted soils or artificially contaminated soil samples were considered to investigate the effect of soil moisture. We used highly smelter-contaminated and aged soils to study the release of typical heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb) induced by water incubation in batch experiments with characterization via speciation and X-ray diffraction analyses (XRD). The results show that the leachable concentrations of the heavy metals increased slightly in the first 30 days, decreased drastically between 30 and 90 days, and immobilized relatively constant thereafter. The fluctuation was ascribed to the changes of soil Eh and pH, the reductive dissolution of crystalline iron oxides, the formation of new amorphous iron oxides, the absorption of dissolved organic matter and the precipitation of metal sulfide. Speciation analysis indicated that a proportion of the soil heavy metals was transformed from an exchangeable fraction to a less labile fraction after water incubation. And the presence of a lead iron oxide phase and the peak increasing of zinc sulfide were observed via XRD analyses. Finally, water incubation restrained the release of heavy metals after 180 days of incubation, and reduced the leachability of Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb by as much as 1.61%–7.21% for soil A and 0.43%–3.36% for soil B, respectively. The study findings have implications for the formulation of risk control and management strategies for heavy metals in smelter-contaminated soils.

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