Lead Desorption and Remobilization Potential by Colloid Particles in Contaminated Sites

  • A. D. Karathanasis


The utilization of coal combustion byproducts (CCB) alone or in conjunction with other wastes as soil amendments has steadily increased during the last few years. In spite of their beneficial contributions, these amendments, if not monitored, pose a considerable environmental risk because; of their high heavy metal concentrations. Lead is one of several toxic metals found in CCB in relatively high quantities. Although Pb has shown substantial attenuation by the soil matrix, it has also exhibited great sorption affinity and transportability in association with colloidal particles. This study investigated the potential of water-dispersible colloids to desorb Pb from contaminated soil particle surfaces and co-transport it to groundwater. The study employed intact soil monoliths contaminated by Pb, which were flushed with colloid suspensions of different mineralogical composition and deionized water (d-H2O) used as a control. The soil monoliths represented upper solum horizons of an Alfisol and a Mollisol with contrasting macroporosity and organic carbon content. The soil colloids were fractionated from low ionic strength Bt horizons of Alfisols with montmorillonitic, mixed, and illitic mineralogy and variable physicochemical and surface charge properties. The results indicated a sharp decrease, to near zero, of Pb desorbed by deionized water-flushing solutions after 3 pore volumes of leaching, but a continuous desorption and transport of Pb in the presence of colloids. The colloid-induced desorption and remobilization of Pb was in the range of 10-60% of the initial eluent Pb concentration. Colloids with high surface charge (montmorillonitic) and small size diameter showed a greater Pb desorption and transport potential, but the amount of remobilized Pb was the result of contributions by both ion exchange and physical exclusion processes. These findings have important ramifications on assessing and predicting contamination risks and developing remediation strategies.


Pore Volume Colloid Suspension Soil Matrix Soil Colloid Soil Monolith 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. D. Karathanasis
    • 1
  1. 1.Agronomy DepartmentUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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