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Effect of Humic Substances on Cu(II) Solubility in Kaolin-Sand Soil

By J. Wu, L.J. West and D.I. Stewart


The type and amount of organic matter present in industrially contaminated soils will influence the risk they pose. Previous studies have shown the importance of humic and fulvic acids (FAs) (important components of soil organic matter) in increasing the solubility of toxic metals but were not carried out using toxic metal levels and the pH range typical of industrially contaminated soils. This study investigated the influence of three humic substances (HSs: humates, fulvates and humins) on the solubility of copper(II) ions in kaolinitic soil spiked with Cu at levels representative of industrially contaminated soil. Humates, fulvates and humin were extracted from Irish moss peat, and controlled pH batch leaching tests were conducted on an artificial kaolin-sand soil that was spiked with each. Further leaching tests were conducted on soil spiked with each HS and copper nitrate. Dissolved organic contents were determined by titration and total and free aqueous copper concentrations in the leachate were measured using AAS and ion selective electrode (ISE) potentiometry respectively (dissolved complexed copper levels were determined by difference). It was found that humates and fulvates are partially sorbed by the soil, probably by chemisorption on positively charged gibbsite (Al-hydroxide) sites in the kaolinite. The addition of 340 mg/kg Cu(II) ions did not significantly affect the amount of humate or fulvate sorbed. Dissolved humates and fulvates form soluble complexes with copper over the pH range 3–11. However, in the presence of kaolinite, soluble copper humates and fulvates are unable to compete with the kaolinite for Cu ions at pH 6–7. Above pH 8, humate and fulvate complexes are the only forms of dissolved Cu. Humin is largely insoluble and has little effect on Cu mobility between pH 2 and 12. The implication of this study is that measurement of total soil organic content and water leaching tests should be a standard part of contaminated site investigation.\u

Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2002
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