Column leaching and sorption experiments to assess the mobility of potentially toxic elements in industrially contaminated land

Peter Anderson, Christine Davidson, A L Duncan, D Littlejohn, Allan M. Ure, L M Garden

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Made-up ground collected from layers of a trial pit excavated on a former industrial site was treated with artificial rainwater in a series of column leaching and sorption experiments. Metal mobility and the ability of various layers of material obtained from the pit to act as sources or sinks of potentially toxic elements were assessed. Samples from different layers varied in their abilities to raise the pH of rainwater applied at pH 3.5 and 4.3, and this was reflected in the amounts of metals mobilised by the rainwater as it percolated through the soil column. Material from the top two layers of the pit released cadmium, copper, manganese, lead, nickel and zinc to the aqueous phase, but the lower layers, with higher buffering capacity, were able to resist acidification even when the equivalent of 12 months' rainfall (western UK) was applied. Column sorption experiments confirmed the ability of material from layer 4 (48–50 cm) to take up copper, manganese and zinc. Metals were determined in the leachates by flame and electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry and principle anions by ion chromatography.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-239
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Monitoring
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • environmental monitoring
  • column leaching
  • toxic metals

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