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Effects of a natural sepiolite bearing material and lime on the immobilization and persistence of cadmium in a contaminated acid agricultural soil


Soil contamination with cadmium (Cd) represents a substantial threat to human health and environmental quality. Long-term effectiveness and persistence of remediation are two important criteria for the evaluation of amendment techniques used to remediate soils polluted with potentially toxic metals. In the current study, we investigated the remediation persistence of a natural sepiolite bearing material (NSBM, containing 15% sepiolite) and ground limestone (equivalent to > 98.0% CaO) on soil pH, Cd bioavailability, and Cd accumulation by pak choi (Brassica chinensis L.) during the growth of four consecutive crops in a Cd-contaminated acid soil with different amounts of NSBM (0, 0.2, 0.5, 1, 2, and 5%). Soil pH levels ranged from 5.21 to 7.76 during the first crop, 4.30 to 7.34 during the second, 4.23 to 7.80 during the third, and 4.33 to 6.98 during the fourth, and increased significantly with increasing the application rate of NSBM. Soil CaCl2-Cd and shoot Cd concentrations decreased by 8.11 to 99.2% and 6.58 to 94.5%, respectively, compared with the control throughout the four cropping seasons. A significant negative correlation was found between soil CaCl2-Cd and soil pH. Combined use of 0.1% lime and NSBM showed greater effects than NSBM alone, especially, when the application rate of NSBM was ˂ 2%. Moreover, pak choi tissue Cd concentrations in the treatments with NSBM addition alone at ≥ 2% or at ≥ 1% NSBM combined with 0.1% lime met the maximum permissible concentration (MPC) over the four crops, allowed by the Chinese and European regulations. Based on the present study, safe crop production in the test soil is possible at a soil pH > 6.38 and CaCl2-Cd < 14 μg kg−1, and soil Cd immobilization by NSBM without or with lime is a potentially feasible method of controlling the transfer of soil Cd into the food chain.

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This research was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant 41325003) and the Key Research and Technology Project of Hunan Province (Grant 2017NK2141).

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Correspondence to Changyin Tan.

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Responsible editor: Roberto Terzano

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Cao, X., Hu, P., Tan, C. et al. Effects of a natural sepiolite bearing material and lime on the immobilization and persistence of cadmium in a contaminated acid agricultural soil. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 22075–22084 (2018).

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  • Cadmium
  • Acid soil
  • Sepiolite
  • Additives
  • Bioavailability
  • Plant uptake
  • Persistence