Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 221, Issue 1–4, pp 351–363 | Cite as

Natural Attenuation of Zn, Cu, Pb and Cd in Three Biosolids-Amended Soils of Contrasting pH Measured Using Rhizon Pore Water Samplers

  • Ghulam Murtaza
  • Richard John HaynesEmail author
  • Ravindra Naidu
  • Oxana N. Belyaeva
  • Kwon-Rae Kim
  • Dane T. Lamb
  • Nanthi S. Bolan


The effects of application of biosolids, at four rates, to an alkaline (pH 8.4), neutral (pH 7.0) and acidic (pH 4.0) soil on concentrations of Cu, Zn, Pb, Cd and dissolved organic C in soil solution were measured over a 170-day period in a laboratory incubation study using Rhizon pore water samplers. Applications of biosolids decreased solution pH in the alkaline soil, increased it in the acidic soil and had little effect in the neutral soil. In general, increasing application rates of biosolids progressively increased EC and concentrations of dissolved organic C (DOC), Cu, Zn, and to a lesser extent Cd and Pb, in soil solution. Concentrations of DOC and concentrations of solution Cu, Zn, and to a lesser extent solution Cd and Pb, decreased over the incubation period. In all three soils, concentrations of solution Cu and Zn were closely positively correlated with DOC concentrations and similar positive but weaker correlations were found for solution Cd and Pb. For the alkaline and neutral soils, concentrations of solution Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb were generally negatively correlated with solution pH but for the acidic soil, positive correlations for Cu and Zn were recorded. The percentage reduction in solution Cu and Zn, between 0 and 170 days incubation, increased with increasing rates of biosolids in the acid soil (where biosolids applications increased pH) but the reverse was the case for the alkaline soil (where pH fell following biosolids applications). Greatest percentage reduction in soluble Cu and Zn occurred in the neutral soil which had the greatest BET surface area, clay and organic matter contents and therefore the greatest capacity to adsorb heavy metal cations. It was concluded that solution pH, dissolved organic C and the intrinsic capacity of the soil to remove metals from solution, were the main factors interacting to regulate heavy metal cation solubility in the biosolids-amended soils.


Biosolids Zn Cu Pb Cd Soil pH Dissolved organic C 



The first author thanks the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan for funding of his Post-Doctoral position. We are also grateful to the University of South Australia and CRC CARE for providing facilities for this research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ghulam Murtaza
    • 1
    • 2
  • Richard John Haynes
    • 3
    Email author
  • Ravindra Naidu
    • 1
  • Oxana N. Belyaeva
    • 3
  • Kwon-Rae Kim
    • 1
  • Dane T. Lamb
    • 1
  • Nanthi S. Bolan
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment and Remediation, Division of Information Technology, Engineering and the EnvironmentUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Soil and Environmental SciencesUniversity of AgricultureFaisalabadPakistan
  3. 3.School of Land, Crop and Food Sciences/CRC CAREThe University of QueenslandSt. LuciaAustralia

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