, Volume 366, Issue 1-3, pp 81-90

Effect of organic complexation on the behaviour of dissolved Cd, Cu and Zn in the Scheldt estuary

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Samples from the Scheldt estuary have been assayed for dissolved Cd, Cuand Zn using differential pulse anodic stripping voltammetry, either astotal (after UV irradiation) or labile concentrations. Under theseexperimental conditions, labile concentrations ranged between51–65% of total Cu, 16–66% of total Zn and53–91% of total Cd. The metal–organic interactions wereassessed by evaluating (a) the distribution coefficient Kd forthe distribution of the metals between the liquid phase (complexation) andtheir binding to particulate matter, and (b) the competitive effect exertedby inorganic complexing ligands using a multi–element interactionmodel. The proportion of organically bound metals (strong and labile) wasestimated, in this speciation scheme, to range from 86 to 99% for Cu,from 90 to 96% for Zn, and from 10 to 35% for Cd. From thedissolved organic carbon distribution in the Scheldt (≤ 10 mg Cl-1 and taking into account competition from major cations Caand Mg, free ligand concentrations available for heavy metal complexationwere estimated to be ≤ 0.15 mg C l-1. With these values,conditional stability constants for the chelation of Cu, Zn and Cd werecalculated assuming either a single-step or a two-step complexation in thedissolved phase. Given the assumptions made in these models, stabilityconstants in the range of 107.8–1010.6 forCu, 107.0–109.1 for Zn and106.9–108.9 for Cd were obtained. Therelevance of these data to previous in vitro and in situ studies isdiscussed taking into consideration current concepts of metal bindingaffinity for organic ligands.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.