Mobilization of soluble and dispersible lead, arsenic, and antimony in a polluted, organic-rich soil - effects of pH increase and counterion valency

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Received for publication May 23, 2008. Liming is a common technique suggested for the stabilization of shooting range sites. We investigated the effect of an increase in pH on the mobilization of soluble and dispersible (colloidal) Pb, As, and Sb. Our hypothesis was that the addition of divalent cations counteracts the pH-induced mobilization of soluble and colloidal metal(loid)s. We determined soluble (operationally defined as the fraction < 10 nm obtained after centrifugation) and dispersible (filter cut-off 1200 nm) As, Pb, Sb, Fe, and Corg concentrations in the filtered suspensions of batch extracts of topsoil samples (Corg: 8%) from a former shooting range site following a pH increase to values between 3.5 and 7 by adding a monovalent (KOH) or a divalent (Ca(OH)2) base. In the Ca(OH)2–treated samples, dissolved metal(loid) concentrations were 62 to 98% lower than those titrated with KOH to similar pH. Similarly, Ca reduced the concentration of dispersible Pb by 95%, but had little or no impact on dispersible As and Sb. We conclude that the counterion valency controls the mobility of metal(loid)s by affecting the mobility and sorption capacity of the sorbents (e.g., colloids, organic matter).

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