The Effect of Flue Gas Desulfurization Residue on Corn (Zea mays L.) Growth and Leachate Salinity: Multiple Season Data from Amended Mesocosms

  • T. Punshon
  • J. C. Seaman
  • D. C. Adriano


The environmental effects of applying a weathered flue gas desulfurization residue (FGD) to soil was monitored in a mesocosm experiment conducted over several cropping periods. Dry biomass and elemental composition of crop plants were measured, as well as the quality and chemical composition of soil and leachate collected from treated mesocosms. Data collected in the first year following FGD amendment showed no effect on the germination of corn (Zea mays L. var Dekalb DK-683), soybean (Glycine max L. Merr. Var. Haskell Pupa 94), radish (Raphanus sativus L. var. Sparkler), and cotton (Gossypius hirsutus L. var. Deltapine 51) and a significant stimulation in biomass. Metal and metalloid enrichment of plant tissues, specifically As, B, Se and Mo was also significant. Application of FGD residue drastically altered the pH of the soil and the salinity of the leachate. Studies were continued into a second season to monitor the duration of beneficial and deleterious effects arising from FGD amendment, as it is expected that the majority of environmental effects will occur in the initial season following application. Second season data using a monoculture of corn showed no significant stimulation or inhibition of biomass, in contrast to findings of the initial year. Concentrations of metals and metalloids within plant tissues in the second season were lower, although still elevated above control concentrations. Electrical conductivity of mesocosm leachate; elevated from a control level of 0.05 dS m−1 to 3.4 dS m−1 with addition of 100 tons FGD acre −1, was still elevated 550 days after application. Repeated monitoring of leachate salinity showed evidence of only a slight decline 928 days after application. Soil data collected at the end of the second growth season showed that Se concentration had fallen below detection limits, and levels of As had also fallen by approximately 29%. The duration of environmental effects from FGD residue application can be summarized in terms of their half-lives, i.e. the length of time required for a 50% reduction in altered environmental parameters toward control levels. When half-lives for plants, soil and leachate are compared, the increase in soil pH and leachate salinity have the longest half-lives, and stimulation of plant biomass the shortest.


Leachate Quality Mesocosm Soil Boron Accumulation Savannah River Ecology Laboratory Environmental Side Effect 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Sale, L.Y., Naeth, M.A., and Chanasyk, D.S., Growth response of Barley on Unweathered Fly Ash Amended soil. J. Environ. Qual., 25, 684–691. 1996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Kukier, U. and Sumner, M.E., Boron availability to plants from coal combustion by-products. Water, Air & Soil Pollution, 87, 93, 1996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kukier, U., Sumner, M.E., and Miller, W.P., Boron release from fly ash and its uptake by corn. J. Environ. Qual., 23, 596–603. 1994.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Walker, W.J. and Dowdy, R.H., Elemental Composition of Barley and Ryegrass Grown on Acid Soils Amended with Scrubber sludge. J. Env. Qual., 9, 27, 1980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Stehouwer, R.C., Sutton, P., Fowler, R.K., and Dick, W.A., Minespoil amendment with dry flue gas desulpfuization by-products: Elemental solubility and mobility. J. Environ. Qual., 24, 165, 1995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Stehouwer, R.C., Sutton, P., and Dick, W.A., Transport and plant uptake of soil-applied dry flue gas desulfurization by products. Soil Science, 161, 562, 1996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Clark, R.B., Zeto, S.K., Ritchey, K.D., and Baligar, V.C., Boron accumulation by maize grown in acidic soil amended with coal combustion by-products. USDA Publication, 1995.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Clark, R.B., Zeto, S.K., Ritchey, K.D., and Baligar, V.C., Boron accumulation by maize grown in acidic soil amended with coal combustion products. Fuel, 78, 179, 1999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Carlson, C.L. and Adriano, D.C., Environmental impacts of coal combustion residues. J. Environ. Qual., 22, 227, 1993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Sloan, J.J., Dowdy, R.H., Dolan, M.S., and Rehm, G.W., Plant and soil responses to field-applied flue gas desulfurization residue. Fuel, 78, 169, 1999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Punshon, T., Knox, A.S., Adriano, D.C., Seaman, J.C., and Weber, T.J., Flue Gas Desulfurization residue (FGD): Potential Applications and Environmental Issues., in Biochemistry of Trace Elements in Coal and Coal Combustion Byproducts., K.S. Sajwan and R.F. Keefer, Eds., Lewis Publishers: Boca Raton, FL., 1999, 7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Adriano, D.C., Page, A.L., Elseewi, A.A., Chang, A.C., and Straughan, I., Utilization and disposal of fly ash and other coal residues in terrestrial ecosystems. A review. J. Environ. Qual., 9, 333, 1980.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Brown, J., Ray, N.J., and Ball, M., The disposal of pulverized fuel ash in water supply catchment areas. Water Res., 10, 1115, 1976.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Cervelli, S., Petruzzelli, and Perna, A., Fly ashes as an amendment in cultivated soils. I. Effect on mineralisation and nitrification. Water, Air & Soil Pollution, 33, 331, 1987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Wright, R.J., Kemper, W.D., Millner, P.D., Power, J.F., and Korcak, R.F., Agricultural Uses of Municipal, Animal, and Industrial Byproducts,. 1998, US Department of Agriculture. p. 127.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Punshon, T., Adriano, D.C., and Weber, J.T., Restoration of Eroded Land Using Coal Fly Ash and Biosolids.,. 1999, Electrical Power Research Institute: Pal Alto, CA.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Dick, W.A., Hao, Y.-L., Stehouwer, R.C., Bigham, J.M., Wolfe, W.E., Adriano, D.C., Beeghly, J., and Haefner, R.J., Beneficial Uses of Flue Gas Desulfurization By-Products: Examples and Case Studies of Land Application.,in Beneficial Uses of Land Applied Agricultural, Industrial and Municipal By-Products,1999,.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Santhanam, C.J., Lunt, R.R., Johnson, S.L., Cooper, C.B., Thayer, P.S., and Jones, J.W., Health and Environmental impacts of increased generation of coal fly ash and FGD sludges. Environmental Health Perspectives, 33, 131, 1979.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Punshon, T., Adriano, D.C., and Weber, J.T., Effect of flue gas desulfurization residue on plant establishment and soil and leachate quality. J. Environ. Qual., 30, 1071, 2001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Miller, W.P., Environmental Considerations in Land Application of By-Product Gypsum. in Agricultural Utlization of Urban and Industrial By-Products., American Society of Agronomy: Madison, WI., 1995, 183.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Chen, L., Dick, W.A., and Nelson, S., Flue gas desulfurization addition to acid soil: alfalfa productivity and environmental quality. Environ. Pollut., 114, 161, 2001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Clark, R.B., Ritchey, K.D., and Baligar, V.C., Benefits and constraints for use of FGD products on agricultural land. Fuel, 80, 821, 2001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Knox, A.S. and Ziemkiewicz, P.F. Accelerated procedure for assessing the risks associated with amending agricultural soils with flua gas desulphurization solids. in Sixth International Conference on the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements. University of Guelph, ICOBTE, 2001, 241.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Baege, R. and Sauer, H., Recent developments in CFB-FGD technology. VGB Powertech, 80, 57, 2000.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Alloway, B.J., Heavy metals in soils. 2nd ed, London: Blackie Academic & Professional. 1995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Punshon
    • 1
  • J. C. Seaman
    • 1
  • D. C. Adriano
    • 1
  1. 1.Savannah River Ecology LaboratoryUniversity of GeorgiaAikenUSA

Personalised recommendations