Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 90, Issue 3, pp 543–556

Solubility of heavy metals in a contaminated soil: Effects of redox potential and pH


  • M. C. Chuan
    • Department of Chemical EngineeringNational Taiwan Institute of Technology
  • G. Y. Shu
    • Department of Chemical EngineeringNational Taiwan Institute of Technology
  • J. C. Liu
    • Department of Chemical EngineeringNational Taiwan Institute of Technology

DOI: 10.1007/BF00282668

Cite this article as:
Chuan, M.C., Shu, G.Y. & Liu, J.C. Water Air Soil Pollut (1996) 90: 543. doi:10.1007/BF00282668


To assess the mobilities of Pb, Cd, and Zn from a contaminated soil, the effects of redox potential and pH value on metal solubilities were investigated. Both redox potential and pH were found to greatly affect heavy metal solubility in the soil. Results showed that the soil suspension under continuous oxygen aeration for 21 days resulted in increases of redox potential from 290 to 440 mV and pH value from 6.9 to 7.0, respectively. Soluble concentrations of Pb, Cd, and Zn varied with time, and were all lower than 1 mg kg−1. When the soil suspension was aerated with nitrogen, final redox potential was −140 mV and pH value of 7.1. The soluble metal concentrations were slightly higher than those aerated with oxygen. The equilibrium solubility experiments were conducted under three different pH values (3.3, 5.0, 8.0) and three redox potential (325, 0, −100 mV). Results showed that metals were sparingly soluble under alkaline conditions (pH = 8.0). Metal solubilities were higher when under slightly acidic conditions (pH = 5.0), and increased drastically when pH was kept at 3.3. When solubilities were compared under same pH values, it was observed that metal solubilities increased as redox potential decreased. Generally speaking, acidic and reducing conditions were most favorable for metal solubilization, and the effect of pH was more significant than that of redox potential. It was proposed that heavy metals were mostly adsorbed onto Fe-Mn oxyhydroxides. The pH-dependent metal adsorption reaction and the dissolution of Fe-Mn oxyhydroxides under reducing conditions was the mechanism controlling the release of heavy metals from soils.

Key words

heavy metalssolubilityredox potentialpHsoil
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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996