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Organic and inorganic amendment application on mercury-polluted soils: effects on soil chemical and biochemical properties


On the basis of a previous study performed in our laboratory, the use of organic and inorganic amendments can significantly modify the Hg mobility in soil. We have compared the effectiveness of organic and inorganic amendments such as digestate and fly ash, respectively, reducing the Hg mobility in Chernozem and Luvisol soils differing in their physicochemical properties. Hence, the aim of this work was to compare the impact of digestate and fly ash application on the chemical and biochemical parameters in these two mercury-contaminated soils in a model batch experiment. Chernozem and Luvisol soils were artificially contaminated with Hg and then incubated under controlled conditions for 21 days. Digestate and fly ash were applied to both soils in a dose of 10 and 1.5 %, respectively, and soil samples were collected after 1, 7, 14, and 21 days of incubation. The presence of Hg in both soils negatively affected to processes such as nitrification, provoked a decline in the soil microbial biomass C (soil microbial biomass C (MBC)), and the microbial activities (arylsulfatase, and β-glucosaminidase) in both soils. Meanwhile, the digestate addition to Chernozem and Luvisol soils contaminated with Hg improved the soil chemical properties (pH, dissolved organic carbon (DOC), N (Ntot), inorganic–N forms (N–NH4 + and N–NO3 )), as consequence of high content in C and N contained in digestate. Likewise, the soil MBC and soil microbial activities (dehydrogenase, arylsulfatase, and β-glucosaminidase) were greatly enhanced by the digestate application in both soils. In contrast, fly ash application did not have a remarkable positive effect when compared to digestate in Chernozem and Luvisol soil contaminated with mercury. These results may indicate that the use of organic amendments such as digestate considerably improved the soil health in Chernozem and Luvisol compared with fly ash, alleviating the detrimental impact of Hg. Probably, the chemical properties present in digestate may determine its use as a suitable amendment for the assisted-natural attenuation of mercury-polluted soils.

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The authors are grateful for the financial support of the GAČR project P503/12/0682 and Czech University of Life Sciences project no. 21140/1313/3130. Garcia-Sánchez also gratefully acknowledges the grant from ESF/MŠMT project (No. CZ.1.07/2.3.00/30.0040).

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Correspondence to Mercedes García-Sánchez.

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Responsible editor: Zhihong Xu

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García-Sánchez, M., Klouza, M., Holečková, Z. et al. Organic and inorganic amendment application on mercury-polluted soils: effects on soil chemical and biochemical properties. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23, 14254–14268 (2016).

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  • Digestate
  • Fly ash
  • Mercury
  • Microbial activity
  • Microbial biomass
  • Nitrification
  • Soil pollution