Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 223, Issue 3, pp 1237–1247 | Cite as

Red Mud as a Chemical Stabilizer for Soil Contaminated with Toxic Metals

  • Viktória Feigl
  • Attila Anton
  • Nikolett Uzigner
  • Katalin Gruiz


We performed a 2-year microcosm study to assess the effectiveness of red mud, a by-product of bauxite processing, in stabilizing contaminated mine waste and agricultural soil. Our study used red mud from a long-term disposal area in Almásfüzitő, Hungary with a pH of 9.0. A 5% (by weight) red mud addition decreased the highly mobile, water-extractable amount of Cd and Zn by 57% and 87%, respectively, in the agricultural soil and by 73% and 79%, respectively, in the mine waste. In a laboratory lysimeter study, the addition of red mud reduced the concentration of Cd and Zn in the leachate by about two third of the original. The metal content of the leachate was below the Maximum Effect Based Quality Criteria for surface water as determined by a risk assessment in the metal-contaminated area of the Toka valley near Gyöngyösoroszi, Hungary. The addition of red mud did not increase the toxicity of the treated mine waste and soil and decreased the Cd and Zn uptake of Sinapis alba test plants by 18–29%. These results indicate that red mud applied to agricultural soil has no negative effects on plants and soil microbes and decreases the amounts of mobile metals, thus indicating its value for soil remediation.


Red mud Chemical stabilization Metals Soil Mine waste 



The research work was performed with the financial support of the “DIFPOLMINE” EU Life 02 ENV/F000291 Demonstration Project, funded by the EU (; the “BANYAREM” Hungarian GVOP (Economic Competitiveness Operative Programme) 3.1.1-2004-05-0261/3.0-R&D Project, funded by the Hungarian Ministry of Economics and Transport and co-financed by the EU within the European Plan (; and the “MOKKA” Hungarian R&D Project, NKFP (National Research and Development Programme) 020-05, funded by the National Office of Research and Technology ( Thanks also to Ágota Atkári, Zoltán Sebestyén, Dániel Tuba, Gáspár Nagy, Zsuzsanna Bertalan, and Felícián Gergely for their contributions.


  1. Anton, A., & Barna, S. (2008). Investigation of the efficiency of potential chemical stabilisers in reducing toxic metal mobility in a soil incubation model experiment. In L. Simon (Ed.), Conference proceedings of soil science assembly, 28–29 May 2008 (pp. 187–194). Nyíregyháza: Soil Protection Foundation, Bessenyei György (In Hungarian).Google Scholar
  2. Brown, S., Christensen, B., Lombi, E., McLaughlin, M., McGrath, S., Colpaert, J., et al. (2005). An inter-laboratory study to test the ability of amendments to reduce the availability of Cd, Pb, and Zn in situ. Environmental Pollution, 138, 34–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Feigl, V., Atkári, Á., Anton, A., & Gruiz, K. (2007). Chemical stabilisation combined with phytostabilisation applied to mine waste contaminated soils in Hungary. Advanced Materials Research, 20–21, 315–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Feigl, V., Uzinger, N., & Gruiz, K. (2009). Chemical stabilization of toxic metals in soil microcosms. Land Contamination and Reclamation, 17(3–4), 483–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Feigl, V., Gruiz, K., & Anton, A. (2010). Combined chemical and phytostabilisation of an acidic mine waste—long-term field experiment. In Conference Proceedings CD of Consoil 2010, 22–24 September 2010, Salzburg, Austria, Consoil 2010 Posters A3-24Google Scholar
  6. Friesl, W., Horak, O., & Wenzel, W. W. (2004). Immobilization of heavy metals in soils by the application of bauxite residues: Pot experiments under field conditions. Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, 167, 54–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Friesl, W., Friedl, J., Platzer, K., Horak, O., & Gerzabek, M. H. (2006). Remediation of contaminated agricultural soils near a former Pb/Zn smelter in Austria: Batch, pot and field experiments. Environmental Pollution, 144, 40–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Friesl-Hanl, W., Platzer, K., Horak, O., & Gerzabek, M. H. (2009). Immobilizing of Cd, Pn and Zn contaminated arable soils close to a former Pb/Zn smelter: A filed study in Austria over 5 years. Environmental Geochemistry and Health, 31, 581–594.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gräfe, M., Power, G., & Klauber, C. (2009). Review of bauxite residue alkalinity and associated chemistry. CSIRO Document DMR-3610, May 2009.Google Scholar
  10. Gray, C. W., Dunham, S. J., Dennis, P. G., Zhao, F. J., & McGrath, S. P. (2006). Field evaluation of in situ remediation of heavy metal contaminated soil using lime and red mud. Environmental Pollution, 142(3), 530–539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gruiz, K., Horváth, B., & Molnár, M. (2001). Environmental toxicology. Budapest: Műegyetemi (in Hungarian).Google Scholar
  12. Gruiz, K., Vaszita, E., & Siki, Z. (2005). Environmental risk management of mining sites with diffuse pollution. In G. J. Annokkée, F. Arendt, & O. Uhlmann (Eds.), Conference proceedings CD of 9th international FZK/TNO conference on soil-water systems, 3–7 October 2005, Bordeaux, France (pp. 2568–2574). Karlsruhe: Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe.Google Scholar
  13. Gruiz K., Vaszita E., & Siki Z. (2006). Quantitative risk assessment as part of the GIS based environmental risk management of diffuse pollution of mining origin in Gyöngyösoroszi, Hungary. In Conference proceedings of Difpolmine conference, 12–14 December 2006, Montpellier, France.Google Scholar
  14. Gruiz, K., Vaszita, E., Siki, Z., Feigl, V., & Fekete, F. (2009). Complex environmental risk management of a former mining site. Land Contamination and Reclamation, 17(3–4), 355–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gruiz, K., Molnár, M., & Feigl, V. (2009). Measuring adverse effects of contaminated soil using interactive and dynamic test methods. Land Contamination and Reclamation, 17(3–4), 443–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gruiz, K., Vaszita, E., Feigl, V., Klebercz, O., Anton, A., & Uzinger, N. (2012). Risk based management and assessment of the red-mud spill in Hungary—consequences of the dam-break and the flood on the soils of the Torna-valley. In: K. Gruiz, T. Meggyes, & É. Fenyvesi (Eds.), Emerging engineering tools for risk management of contaminated sites. Leiden: Maralte BV, in pressGoogle Scholar
  17. Klauber, C., Gräfe, M., & Power, G. (2009). Review of bauxite residue “re-use” options. CSIRO Document DMR-3609, May 2009.Google Scholar
  18. Klebercz, O., Gruiz, K., Feigl, V. & Anton, A. (2010). Introducing the project SOILUTIL. In Conference proceedings CD of Consoil 2010, 22–24 September 2010, Salzburg, Austria, Consoil 2010 Posters A3-39.Google Scholar
  19. Kumpiene, J., Lagerkvist, A., & Maurice, C. (2008). Stabilization of As, Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn in soil using amendments—a review. Waste Management, 28, 215–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lombi, E., Zhao, F. J., Zhang, G., Sun, B., Fitz, W., Zhang, H., et al. (2002). In situ fixation of metals in soils using bauxite residue: Chemical assessment. Environmental Pollution, 118, 435–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lombi, E., Zhao, F. J., Zhang, G., Wieshammer, G., Zhang, H., & McGrath, S. P. (2002). In situ fixation of metals in soils using bauxite residue: Biological effects. Environmental Pollution, 118, 445–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Müller, I., & Pluquet, E. (1998). Immobilization of heavy metals in sediment dredged from a seaport by iron bearing materials. Water Science and Technology, 37, 379–386.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Phillips, I. R. (1998). Use of soil amendments to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and heavy metal availability. Journal of Soil Contamination, 7, 191–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Power, G., Gräfe, M., & Klauber, C. (2011). Bauxite residue issues: I. Current management, disposal and storage practices. Hydrometallurgy, 108(1–2), 33–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. RISSAC (2006). Plan of leaching minilysimeter experiment. BÁNYAREM Project Study. (in Hungarian)Google Scholar
  26. Summers, R. N., Guise, N. R., & Smirk, D. D. (1993). Bauxite residue (red mud) increases phosphorus retention in sandy soil catchments in Western Australia. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 34(1), 85–94.Google Scholar
  27. Summers, R. N., Smirk, D. D., & Karafilis, D. (1996). Phosphorus retention and leachates from sandy soil amended with bauxite residue (red mud). Australian Journal of Soil Research, 34(4), 555–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ward, S. C., & Summers, R. N. (1993). Modifying sandy soils with the fine residue from bauxite refining to retain phosphorus and increase plant yield. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 36(2), 151–156.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Viktória Feigl
    • 1
  • Attila Anton
    • 2
  • Nikolett Uzigner
    • 2
  • Katalin Gruiz
    • 1
  1. 1.Budapest University of Technology and EconomicsBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Research Institute for Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry of the Hungarian Academy of SciencesBudapestHungary

Personalised recommendations