Environmental Effects of Using Chelating Agents in Polluted Sediment Remediation

  • Luca Di PalmaEmail author
  • Elisabetta Petrucci
  • Biancamaria Pietrangeli


The results of laboratory scale experimental tests of contaminant extraction from marine sediment slurries are presented and discussed. The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of EDTA and rhamnolipid in copper removal from an artificially contaminated sediment. The comparison was made in terms of metal extraction yield, and in the evaluation of its mobilization towards the more exchangeable fractions in the sediment. Results show that, under acidic conditions established during washing, EDTA ensured higher extractions efficiencies of Cu (up to 95 %) than rhamnolipid, although there was less mobilization into bioavailable forms with the use of rhamnolipid. In addition, in the view of a biological treatment of the spent solution, the use of rhamnolipid resulted in a lower decrease of the specific oxygen uptake rate with respect to EDTA. In fact, the low surfactants concentration required, partially compensated the toxic effect of Cu towards biomass.


Sediment remediation Washing Biosurfactants Extractions Metal complexes Toxicity 



This work has been partially supported by INAIL, Grant. B 01/DIPIA, Programme 2009-11 P2.


  1. APHA, Awwa, WEF (2005) Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater, 21st edn. American Public Health Association, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  2. Copp J, Spanjers H (2004) Simulation of respirometry-based detection and mitigation of activated sludge toxicity. Control Eng Pract 12:305–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dahrazma B, Mulligan CN (2007) Investigation of the removal of heavy metals from sediments using rhamnolipid in a continuous flow configuration. Chemosphere 63:705–711CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dalzell DJ, Alte S, Aspichueta E, de la Sota A, Etxebarria J, Gutirrez M, Hoffmann CC, Sales D, Obst U, Christofi N (2002) A comparison of five rapid direct toxicity assessment methods to determine toxicity of pollutants to activated sludge. Chemosphere 47:535–545CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Di Palma L (2009) Influence of indigeneous and added iron on copper extraction from soil. J Hazard Mater 170:96–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Di Palma L, Ferrantelli P (2005) Copper leaching from a sandy soil: mechanism and parameters affecting EDTA extraction. J Hazard Mater B122:85–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Di Palma L, Ferrantelli P, Medici F (2005) Heavy metal extraction from contaminated soil: recovery of the flushing solution. J Environ Manage 77:205–211Google Scholar
  8. Di Palma L, Mecozzi R (2007) Heavy metal mobilization from harbour sediments with EDTA and citric acid. J Hazard Mater 147:768–775CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Di Palma L, Verdone N (2012) Metals extraction from contaminated soils: model validation and parameters estimation. Chem Eng Trans 28:193–198Google Scholar
  10. Di Palma L, Gonzini O, Mecozzi R (2011) Use of different chelating agents for heavy metal extraction from contaminated harbour sediment. Chem Ecol 27:97–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Di Palma L, Mancini D, Petrucci E (2012) Experimental assessment of chromium mobilization from polluted soil by washing. Chem Eng Trans 28:145–150Google Scholar
  12. Gutierrez M, Etxebarria J, de las Fuentes L (2002) Evaluation of wastewater toxicity: comparative study between Microtox® and activated sludge oxygen uptake inhibition. Water Res 36:919–924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Herman DC, Artiola JF, Miller RM (1995) Removal of cadmium, lead, and zinc from soil by a rhamnolipid biosurfactant. Environ Sci Technol 29:2280–2285CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Italian Environmental Regulation (2006) Environmental standards assessment, G.U.R.I. n. 88 of April 14th 2006Google Scholar
  15. Juliastuti SR, Baeyens J, Creemers C, Bixio D, Lodewyckx E (2003) The inhibitory effects of heavy metals and organic compounds on the net maximum specific growth rate of the autotrophic biomass in activated sludge. J Hazard Mater 100:271–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kim C, Lee Y, Ong SK (2003) Factors affecting EDTA extraction of lead from lead-contaminated soils. Chemosphere 51:845–853CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lei M, Liao B, Zeng Q, Qin P, Khan S (2008) Fraction distributions of lead, cadmium, copper, and zinc in metal-contaminated soil before and after extraction with disodium ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. Commun Soil Sci Plant Anal 39:1963–1978CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Liu C, Evett JB (2002) Soil properties, testing, measurement, and evaluation, 5th edn. Prentice-Hall, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  19. Madoni P, Davoli D, Guglielmi L (1998) Response of SOUR and AUR to heavy metal contamination in activated sludge. Water Res 33:2459–2464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Maketon W, Zenner CS, Ogden KL (2008) Removal efficiency and binding mechanisms of copper and copper-EDTA complexes using polyethyleneimine. Environ Sci Technol 42:2124–2129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Moutsatsou A, Gregou M, Matsas D, Protonotarios V (2006) Washing as a remediation technology applicable in soils heavily polluted by mining–metallurgical activities. Chemosphere 63:1632–1640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Mulligan CN (2005) Environmental applications for biosurfactants. Environ Pollut 133:183–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mulligan CN, Yong RN, Gibbs BF (2001) Heavy metal removal from sediments by biosurfactants. J Hazard Mater 85:111–125CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Neale CN, Bricka RY, Chao AC (1997) Evaluating acids and chelating agents for removing heavy metals from contaminated soils. Environ Prog 16:274–280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Neilson JW, Artiola JF, Maier RN (2003) Characterization of lead removal from contaminated soils by non toxic washing agents. J Environ Qual 32:899–908CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Ochoa-Loza FJ, Artiola JF, Maier RM (2001) Stability constants for the complexation of various metals with a rhamnolipid biosurfactant. J Environ Qual 30:479–485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Oviedo C, Rodríguez J (2003) EDTA: the chelating agent under environmental scrutiny. Quim Nova 26:901–905CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pernetti M, Di Palma L (2005) Experimental evaluation of inhibition effects of saline wastewater on activated sludge. Environ Technol 26:695–704CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Pociecha M, Lestan D (2012) Novel EDTA and process water recycling method after soil washing of multi-metal contaminated soil. J Hazard Mater 201–202:273–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Vilar S, Gutierrez A, Antezana J, Carral P, Alvarez A (2005) A comparative study of three different methods for the sequential extraction of heavy metals in soil. Toxicol Environ Chem 87:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Voegelin A, Barmettler K, Kretzschmar R (2003) Heavy metal release from contaminated soils: comparison of column leaching and batch extraction results. J Environ Qual 32:865–875CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luca Di Palma
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elisabetta Petrucci
    • 1
  • Biancamaria Pietrangeli
    • 2
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Ingegneria Chimica Materiali AmbienteSapienza Università di RomaRomeItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento AmbienteIstituto Nazionale Infortuni sul Lavoro (INAIL)RomeItaly

Personalised recommendations