Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 98, Issue 1–2, pp 57–78 | Cite as

Evaluation of heavy metal remediation using mineral apatite

  • Xiaobing Chen
  • Judith V. Wright
  • James L. Conca
  • Loni M. Peurrung


The current study investigated the sorption and desorption of dissolved lead (Pb), cadmium (Cd) and zinc (Zn) from aqueous solutions and a contaminated soil by North Carolina mineral apatite. Aqueous solutions of Pb, Cd, and Zn were reacted with the apatite, followed by desorption experiments under a wide variety of pH conditions ranging from 3 to 12, including the extraction fluids used in the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP) of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). The sorption results showed that the apatite was very effective in retaining Pb and was moderately effective in attenuating Cd and Zn at pH 4–5. Approximately 100% of the Pb applied was removed from solutions, representing a capacity of 151 mg of Pb/g of apatite, while 49% of Cd and 29% of Zn added were attenuated, with removal capacities of 73 and 41 mg g−1, respectively. The desorption experiments showed that the sorbed Pb stayed intact where only 14–23% and 7–14% of the sorbed Cd and Zn, respectively, were mobilized by the TCLP solutions.

The apatite was also effective in removing dissolved Pb, Cd, and Zn leached from the contaminated soil using pH 3–12 solutions by 62.3–99.9, 20–97.9, and 28.6–98.7%, respectively. In particular, the apatite was able to reduce the metal concentrations in the TCLP-extracted soil leachates to below US EPA maximum allowable levels, suggesting that apatite could be used as a cost-effective option to remediating metal-contaminated soils, wastes, and/or water.

The sorption mechanisms are variable in the reactions between the apatite and dissolved Pb, Cd, and Zn. The Pb removals primarily resulted from the dissolution of the apatite followed by the precipitation of hydroxyl fluoropyromorphite. Minor otavite precipitation was observed in the interaction of the apatite with aqueous Cd, but other sorption mechanisms, such as surface complexation, ion exchange, and the formation of amorphous solids, are primarily responsible for the removal of Zn and Cd.

Key words

acid mine drainage desorption phosphate rock pollution control remediation technology soil and groundwater contamination sorption TLCP toxic metals waste management 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaobing Chen
    • 1
  • Judith V. Wright
    • 2
  • James L. Conca
    • 2
  • Loni M. Peurrung
    • 1
  1. 1.Pacific Northwest National LaboratoryRichlandU.S.A.
  2. 2.UFA VenturesRichlandU.S.A.

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