Competitive adsorption of Cd, Cu, Hg and Pb by agricultural soils of the Changjiang and Zhujiang deltas in China

Research paper by Ming-kui Zhang, Shun-an Zheng

Indexed on: 01 Oct '07Published on: 01 Oct '07Published in: Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE A


Soils can often be contaminated simultaneously by more than one heavy metal. The sorption-desorption behavior of a metal in a soil will be affected by the presence of other metals. Therefore, selective retention and competitive adsorption of the soils to heavy metals can affect their availability and movement through the soils. In this study, the simultaneous competitive adsorption of four heavy metals (Cd, Cu, Hg, and Pb) on ten agricultural soils collected from the Changjiang and Zhujiang deltas, China was assessed. The results showed that the competition affected the behavior of heavy metal cations in such a way that the soils adsorbed less Cd and Hg, and more Pb and Cu with increasing total metal concentrations, regardless of the molar concentration applied. As the applied concentrations increased, Pb and Cu adsorption increased, while Cd and Hg adsorption decreased. The adsorption sequence most found was Pb>Cu>Hg>Cd. The maximum adsorption capacity for the heavy metal cations was calculated, and affected markedly by soil properties. The results suggest that Hg and Cd have higher mobility associated to the lower adsorption and that Pb and Cu present the opposite behavior. Significant correlations were found between the maximum adsorption capacity of the metals and pH value and exchangeable acid, suggesting that soil pH and exchangeable acid were key factors controlling the solubility and mobility of the metals in the agricultural soils.