Advertisement

A laboratory study of the leachate composition of selected metals in cemeteries (South Africa)

  • Sunette van Allemann
  • Matthys A. DippenaarEmail author
  • Jana Olivier
Original Article
  • 7 Downloads

Abstract

Considerable research has been conducted on the physical and chemical corrosion of metals under various environmental conditions, but less attention has been given to the impact of corrosion on the environment. One such potentially hazardous situation may occur in cemeteries where metals and coatings used in the manufacturing of coffins may corrode, seep into the soils, and could end up in nearby water sources. The aim of this project was to determine whether burial materials corrode and leach into groundwater under controlled laboratory conditions. This was achieved by burying samples of burial materials in containers with three different soil types, namely sand, silt and clay. The experimental containers were exposed to various conditions simulating typical South African temperatures, rainfall intensities and with different pH values. A total of 24 simulations and 3 controls were tested. The leachates of each sample were collected every 8 weeks over a period of 6 months and tested for aluminium, iron, copper and zinc. In this experiment, it becomes evident that coffin materials do corrode and become mobile; however, they react differently in different soil media and under diverse environmental conditions. In general, the most corrosive conditions are high temperatures and acidic rainfall. Zn is the most corroded and mobile metal, with Fe being the least. It is notable that Al, Fe and Cu continue to leach out of the soils even after a period of 6 months. This may pose a health and environmental problem and a programme of groundwater quality monitoring should be undertaken in the vicinity of cemeteries.

Keywords

Cemeteries Burials Coffins Metals Corrosion 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge the South African Water Research Commission (https://www.wrc.org.za) for the funding of project K5/2449 and Orytech (Pty) Ltd for the use of their facilities. Additional acknowledgement is extended to all parties involved in the project for their valuable input throughout discussions and reviews. Further thanks are extended to the journal, its editor and reviewers for their valuable input.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Abia A, Ubomba-Jaswa E, Schmidt C, Dippenaar MA (2018) Where did they come from? Multi-drug resistant pathogenic Escherichia coli in a cemetery environment? Antibiotics 7:73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amuno SA (2013) Potential ecological risk of heavy metal distribution in cemetery soils. Water Air Soil Pollut.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-013-1435-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aruomero AS, Afolabi O (2014) Comparitive assessment of trace elements in soils associated with casket burials: towards implementing green burials. Eurasian J Soil Sci 3(1):65–76CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. ASM International (2000) Corrosion: understanding the basics. ASM International, LondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Brady NC, Weil RR (2008) The nature and properties of soils. Pearson Education Inc, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  6. Chapman EE, Dave G, Murimboh JD (2013) A review of metal (Pb and Zn) sensitive and pH tolerant bioassay organisms for risk screening of metal-contaminated acidic soils. Environ Pollut 179:326–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Corrosion Institute of South Africa (1994) Corrosion control in Southern Africa. Mintek, JohannesburgGoogle Scholar
  8. Corrosion Institute of South Africa (2004) Corrosion control in South Africa. The Corrosion Institute of South Africa, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  9. Corrosion Institute of Southern Africa (2004) Corrosion control in Southern Africa. In: McEwan J (ed) Kelvin. Corrosion Institute of Southern Africa, MidrandGoogle Scholar
  10. Dambudzo J (2012) The state of cemeteries in South African Cities. South African Local Government Association (SALGA), PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  11. Dent BB, Knight MJ (1998) Cemeteries: a special kind of landfill, the context of their sustainable management. http://www.science.uts.edu.au. Accessed 17 Feb 2014
  12. Dent BB, Forbes SL, Stuart BH (2003) Review of human decomposition processes in soil. Environ Geol 45:576–585CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dippenaar MA (2014) Towards a multi-faceted Vadose Zone Assessment Protocol: cemetery guidelines and application to a burial site located near a seasonal wetland (Pretoria, South Africa). Bull Eng Geol Environ 73(4):1105–1115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fiedler S, Graw M (2003) Decomposition of buried corpses, with special reference to the formation of adipocere. Naturwissenschaflen 90:291–300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Fineza AG, Marques EA, Bastos RK, Betim LS (2014) Impacts on the groundwater quality within a cemetery area in south–east Brazil. Soils Rocks 37(2):161–169Google Scholar
  16. Garverick L (1994) Corrosion of the petrochemical industry. ASM International, LondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Gondal M, Nasr M, Ahmed M, Yamania Z, Alsalhid S (2011) Detection of lead in paint samples synthesised locally using laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy. J Environ Sci Health Part A 46:42–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hanna Instruments (n.d.) Instruction manual for HI 38039 iron low range test kit with checker disc, Hanna Instruments. https://hannainst.com/manuals. Retrieved 8 Aug 2019
  19. Hanna Instruments (n.d.) Instruction manual for HI 38076 zinc test kit with checker disc, Hanna Instruments. https://hannainst.com/manuals. Retrieved 8 Aug 2019
  20. Hanna Instruments (n.d.) Instruction manual HI 721 iron checker HC handheld colorimeter 0.00 to 5.00 ppm range, Hanna Instruments. https://hannainst.com/manuals. Retrieved 8 Aug 2019
  21. Integrated Publishing (2017) Chemistry: the effect of pH on the corrosion rate of iron in water. Retrieved from Nuclear Power Training Integrated Publishing: http://nuclearpowertraining.tpub.com/h1015v1/css/Figure-7-Effect-Of-Ph-On-The-Corrosion-Rate-Of-Iron-In-Water-117.htm. Accessed 24 Feb 2017
  22. Janin A, Coudert L, Riche P, Mercier G, Cooper P, Blais J-F (2011) Application of a CCA-treated wood waste decontamination process to other copper-based preservative-treated wood after disposal. J Hazard Mater 186(2):1880–1887CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Javaherdashti R (2008) Microbiologically influenced corrosion: an engineering insight. Springer, London, p 164. ISBN 978-1-84800-074-2Google Scholar
  24. Jonker C, Olivier J (2012) Mineral contamination from cemetery soils: case study of Zandfontein cemetery, South Africa. Int J Environ Res Public Health 9:511–520 (ISSN 1660–4601) CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Paiqa P, Delerue-Matos C (2016) Determination of pharmaceuticals in groundwater collected in five cemeteries’ areas (Portugal). Sci Total Environ 569:16–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pourbaix M (1974) Applications of electrochemistry in corrosion science and practice. Corros Sci\ 14:25–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Revie RW, Uhlig HH (2008) Corrosion and corrosion control: an introduction to corrosion science and engineering. Wiley, HobokenCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Tibbett M (2010) Blood, guts, gore and soil: decomposition processes in graves and forensic taphonomic applications. Soil Solutions for a Changing World. World Congress of Soil Science, Brisbane, pp 1–4Google Scholar
  29. Total Materia (2002) The corrosion of zinc. https://www.totalmateria.com/page.aspx?ID=CheckArticle%26site=ktn%26NM=40. Retrieved 8 Aug 2019
  30. Van Allemann ST (2017) A laboratory simulation of the potential groundwater contamination associated with burial materials. M.Sc dissertation (unpublished). University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  31. Van Allemann ST, Olivier J, Dippenaar MA (2018) A laboratory study of the pollution of formaldehyde in cemeteries (South Africa). Environ Earth Sci.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12665-017-7219-z CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Walker GA (1839) Gatherings from graveyards: particularly those of London: with a concise history of the modes of interment among different nations, from the earliest periods and a detail of dangerous and fatal results produced by the unwise and revolting custom of inhumation, 1st edn. Messrs Longham, LondonGoogle Scholar
  33. World Health Organization (1996) Guidelines for drinking-water quality: health criteria and other supporting information, vol 2, 2nd edn. World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Orytech (Pty) LtdRoodepoortSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations