Red Mud as a Chemical Stabilizer for Soil Contaminated with Toxic Metals
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.
KeywordsRed 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 (www.difpolmine.org); 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 (www.eugris.info/Projects); and the “MOKKA” Hungarian R&D Project, NKFP (National Research and Development Programme) 020-05, funded by the National Office of Research and Technology (www.mokkka.hu). Thanks also to Ágota Atkári, Zoltán Sebestyén, Dániel Tuba, Gáspár Nagy, Zsuzsanna Bertalan, and Felícián Gergely for their contributions.
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