Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 201, Issue 1, pp 295-304

First online:

Relation Between pH and Desorption of Cu, Cr, Zn, and Pb from Industrially Polluted Soils

  • Lisbeth M. OttosenAffiliated withDepartment of Civil Engineering, Kemitorvet, Technical University of Denmark Email author 
  • , Henrik K. HansenAffiliated withDepartamento de Procesos Químicos, Biotecnológicos y Ambientales, Universidad Técnica Federico Santa Maria
  • , Pernille E. JensenAffiliated withDepartment of Civil Engineering, Kemitorvet, Technical University of Denmark

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Desorption of Cu, Cr, Pb, and Zn from industrially polluted soils as a result of acidification is in focus. The eight soils of the investigation vary greatly in composition and heavy metal concentration/combination. Three soils had elevated concentrations of Cu, Pb, and Zn; regardless of pollution level, pollution origin, and soil type, the order for desorption as pH decreased was Zn > Cu > Pb. Turning to a single heavy metal in different soils, there was a huge difference in the pH at which the major desorption started. The variation was most significant for Pb where, e.g., less than 10% was desorbed at pH 2.5 from one soil, whereas in another soil 60% Pb was desorbed at this pH. Sequential extraction was made and the soils in which a high percentage of Pb was found in the residual phase (adsorbed strongest) was also the soils where less Pb was desorbed at low pH in the desorption experiments. It was evident that Cu, Pb, and Zn started to desorb at a higher pH from calcareous soils than from soils with low carbonate content. The mechanism responsible for this is co-precipitation of heavy metals in the carbonates. When the carbonates are dissolved at a relatively high pH of about 5, the co-precipitated heavy metals are released. The sequential extraction pattern for Cr differed generally much from the other heavy metals since the majority of Cr was extracted in the last two steps. Cr was also the heavy metal that desorbed the least at high acidification.


Heavy metals Cu Cr Pb Zn Soil Desorption pH Carbonates