Natural Hazards

, Volume 95, Issue 3, pp 657–675 | Cite as

Assessment of nutrient and heavy metal content and speciation in sewage sludge from different locations in Iran

  • Morteza FeiziEmail author
  • Mohsen Jalali
  • Gianacrlo Renella
Original Paper


More than 80% of sewage sludge (SS) produced in Iran is landfilled with high environmental impact. The chemical properties of SS produced from wastewater plants of cites of Arak, Isfahan, Kermanshah, Rasht, Saveh, Shiraz, Sanandaj, Tehran, Takestan, and Toyserkan were studied to assess the potential beneficial effects of their application to agricultural soil as sustainable SS management. The pH and EC values, total content and water-soluble concentration of nutrients and heavy metals, their water-extractable pools were determined, and their speciation was done through the NICA–Donnan model using the Visual MINTEQ software. Relatively high contents of N, P, and physiologically active cations indicated potential beneficial effects of SS for land application in the agro-ecosystems, whereas the heavy metal content depended on the SS production site, with higher levels found in the SS of the Arak and Saveh wastewater treatment plants. The pH value was the main factor controlling the metal speciation, with Cu and Pb having the highest affinity for the organic matter, and Zn and Mn being mainly present as free ions or inorganic species. Results showed that SS from different locations in Iran differed in their main chemical properties and elemental composition and that speciation analysis could be used to predict potential beneficial and harmful effects of SS, particularly upon the modeling of metal–organic complexes by the NICA–Donnan approach. Globally, our results confirmed that while the SS produced in Iran has potential suitable chemical properties for use in agriculture, their heavy metals load should not be ignored.


Trace elements Organic matter Elemental speciation Visual MINTEQ 

Supplementary material

11069_2018_3513_MOESM1_ESM.docx (62 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 61 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Morteza Feizi
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mohsen Jalali
    • 1
  • Gianacrlo Renella
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Soil Science, College of AgricultureBu-Ali Sina UniversityHamedanIran
  2. 2.Department of Agrifood Production and Environmental SciencesUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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