Environmental Geology

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 685–693 | Cite as

Competitive adsorption of Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn by different soils of Eastern China

  • S. G. Lu
  • Q. F. Xu
Original Article


Simultaneous competitive adsorption behavior of Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn onto nine soils with a wide physical–chemical characteristics from Eastern China was measured in batch experiments to assess the mobility and retention of these metals in soils. In the competitive adsorption system, adsorption isotherms for these metals on the soils exhibited significant differences in shape and in the amount adsorbed. As the applied concentration increased, Cu and Pb adsorption increased, while Cd and Zn adsorption decreased. Competition among heavy metals is very strong in acid soils with lower capacity to adsorb metal cations. Distribution coefficients (Kdmedium) for each metal and soil were calculated. The highest Kdmedium value was found for Pb and followed by Cu. However, low Kdmedium values were shown for Zn and Cd. On the basis of the Kdmedium values, the selectivity sequence of the metal adsorption is Pb > Cu > Zn > Cd and Pb > Cu > Cd > Zn. The adsorption sequence of nine soils was deduced from the joint distribution coefficients (KdΣmedium). This indicated that acid soils with low pH value had lower adsorption capacity for heavy metals, resulting in much higher risk of heavy metal pollution. The sum of adsorbed heavy metals on the soils could well described using the Langmuir equation. The maximum adsorption capacity (Qm) of soils ranged from 32.57 to 90.09 mmol kg−1. Highly significant positive correlations were found between the KdΣmedium and Qm of the metals and pH value and cation exchange capacity (CEC) of soil, suggesting that soil pH and CEC were key factors controlling the solubility and mobility of the metals in soils.


Competitive adsorption Langmuir equation Soils Heavy metal Distribution coefficient 



This research was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (2005CB121104) and Science and Technology Department of Zhejiang Province (2006C12027).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Environmental and Resource Sciences, Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory of Subtropical Soil and Plant NutritionZhejiang UniversityHangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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