Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 31, pp 31031–31039 | Cite as

Heavy metal leaching and plant uptake in mudflat soils amended with sewage sludge

  • Chuanhui GuEmail author
  • Yanchao Bai
Research Article


The leaching and uptake of Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn by maize (Zea mays L.) in mudflat saline-alkali soils amended by sewage sludge was examined using a greenhouse leaching column experiment. Application of sewage sludge caused decreased pH, increased DOC, and increased Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn concentrations in leachates. The similar temporal dynamics of DOC and the metal concentrations in leachates suggested complexation of the metals with DOC. There was downward movement of metals as evidenced by the metal enrichment in the bottom layer (20–40-cm depth) of leaching columns (p < 0.05). The enrichment of metals was contributed by the acid-soluble/exchangeable fraction (EX), reducible fraction (RG), oxidizable fraction (OXI), and residual fraction (RES), indicating redistribution of leached metals from the top 20-cm layer. The sewage sludge application also enhanced plant uptake of metals. However, even under the greatest sludge application rate (150 g kg−1), very small proportions, averagely 0.65% and 0.35%, of the applied metals were leached and taken up by maize, respectively, over the experimental period. Long-term field-scale research is warranted for further investigation of the effects of sewage sludge amendment on heavy metal fractionation and distribution in mudflat soil-plant-water system.


Mudflat soil Soil amendment Sewage sludge Metal fractionation Leaching 


Funding information

This research is funded by Postdoctoral Science Foundation of China (2016M601755), National Natural Science Foundation of China (31872179 and 41828701), Agricultural Independent Innovation of Jiangsu (CX[15]1005), Research Fund for Jiangsu Agricultural Industry Technology System (JATS[2018]210 and JATS[2018]211), Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2015BAD01B03), and Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EnvironmentBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.College of Environmental Science and EngineeringYangzhou UniversityYangzhouChina
  3. 3.Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences|Appalachian State UniversityBooneUSA
  4. 4.Jiangsu Collaborative Innovation Center for Solid Organic Waste Resource UtilizationNanjingChina

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