Plant and Soil

, Volume 329, Issue 1–2, pp 27–33 | Cite as

Characterization of physical and chemical properties of spent foundry sands pertinent to beneficial use in manufactured soils

  • Elizabeth A. Dayton
  • Shane D. Whitacre
  • Robert S. Dungan
  • Nicholas T. Basta
Regular Article


As of 2007, of the 2,000 United States foundries, 93% produce ferrous or aluminum castings, generating 9.4 million tons of non-hazardous spent foundry sand (SFS) annually. Only 28% of the SFS is beneficially used. The U.S. EPA Resource Conservation Challenge identifies SFS as a priority material for beneficial use, with soil blending as a potential reuse option. The objectives of this work were to measure: (1) select chemical and physical properties important to soil quality and function and (2) total and soluble elemental content of 39 SFSs, in order to evaluate SFS suitability as a component in manufactured soils. Total elemental concentration of the SFS was lower than natural background soil levels for most elements analyzed, suggesting limited to no contamination of the virgin sand during metal casting. Pore water elemental concentrations were generally below detection. However, both total and soluble elemental content indicate a potential contribution of plant nutrients. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) planted in SFS mixtures had a median germination rate of 96.9% relative to the control. Blending SFS at varying ratios with other materials will allow “tailoring” of a manufactured soil’s chemical and physical properties to meet specific growing needs. The SFS organic carbon, clay, and plant nutrient content are benefits of SFS that may make them good candidates as manufactured soil components.


Beneficial use Manufactured soil Spent foundry sand Foundry sand 


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Copyright information

© US Government 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth A. Dayton
    • 1
  • Shane D. Whitacre
    • 1
  • Robert S. Dungan
    • 2
  • Nicholas T. Basta
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Environment and Natural ResourcesThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA

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