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Leaching of copper from contaminated soil following the application of EDTA. I. Repacked soil experiments and a model

T. Thayalakumaran, I. Vogeler, D. R. Scotter, H. J. Percival, B. H. Robinson and B. E. Clothier

Australian Journal of Soil Research 41(2) 323 - 333
Published: 03 April 2003


The EDTA-enhanced remediation of copper contaminated sandy-loam soil of volcanic origin was investigated. The soil, from an orchard, was contaminated with about 250 mg/kg of copper due to the extensive use of copper sprays. Copper-contaminated soil was packed into 100-mm-long columns, and solutions of Na2H2EDTA with CaCl2, raised to a pH of 6.2, were applied at a flow rate of 24 mm/h. Application of an excess of 0.01 M EDTA leached about half the acid-extractable copper from the soil; most of it coming out in the first 3 liquid-filled pore volumes (PV). Also a 0.5 PV pulse of 0.001 M EDTA was applied to similar soil columns and then either leached immediately with 0.005 M CaCl2, or left for periods of up to 1 month before leaching. With immediate leaching, 70% of the EDTA applied was complexed with copper in the leachate, but after a month's delay only 24% was complexed with copper in the leachate, the rest being complexed with iron. There was no evidence of EDTA retardation or adsorption.

The experimental results were simulated using the convection–dispersion equation, incorporating a source/sink term. This described the competing time-dependent reactions of copper and iron with EDTA, and the reversion of CuEDTA2– to adsorbed Cu2+ and Fe(III)EDTA in solution. Reasonable simulations were achieved, mostly within errors of observation.

Keywords: iron, convection– dispersion equation, heavy metals.

© CSIRO 2003

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