, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 125-131

Concentrations of heavy metals in forty sewage sludges in England

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Samples of forty sewage sludges taken in England during 1979 were analysed for ten heavy metals using a rapid flameless atomic absorption spectroscopic technique. For all metals the mean concentrations were influenced by a small number of sludges containing exceptionally high concentrations. Typically, the concentration ranges showed approximately a 100-fold spread. Calculations based on U.K. guidelines for limiting the addition of toxic metals in sludge to agricultural soils indicated that application rates would theoretically be limited for more than 75 % of the sludges by the concentrations of Zn, Cu and Ni, expressed additively as the Zn equivalent. Calculations of the theoretical maximum quantities of sludges which could be applied to land on an annual basis suggested that a significant proportion of the sludges would be unsuitable for application to agricultural land at rates of more than 2 t ha−1 yr−1