Removal of Heavy Metals from Calcareous Contaminated Soils by EDTA Leaching
The performance of EDTA for the treatment of calcareous soils contaminated with heavy metals from mining and smelting activities was evaluated in this study. Soil samples containing variable levels of contamination, from 500 to 35 000 mg kg-1 Pb and 700 to 20 000 mg kg-1 Zn, were subjected to EDTA treatment and the extraction of heavy metals was found to vary, ranging between 50 and 98% for Pb and 50 to 100% for Zn. Total residual concentrations were above the limits set by regulatory authorities; leachable metals, however, were efficiently removed and treated soils were all acceptable in terms of toxicity. The effect of EDTA concentration and pulp density was studied on a soil sample containing 12 000 mg kg-1 Pb and 10 000 mg kg-1 Zn. Heavy metals removal was improved at low pulp densities and when EDTA concentration was increased from 0.025 to 0.25 M. The tetrasodium salt Na4-EDTA was found to be less effective for metals removal compared to the disodium salt Na2-EDTA, though applied at higher concentrations. This experimental work has also demonstrated the great importance of soil matrix for the overall evaluation of the EDTA leaching as a cost effective remedial option. The simultaneous dissolution of calcite was found to consume approximately 90% of the available EDTA. It was thus concluded that for the treatment of calcareous soils the design criteria and cost estimations should be based on the calcite content of the soil.
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