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Effects of clay minerals, hydroxides, and timing of dissolved organic matter addition on the competitive sorption of copper, nickel, and zinc: A column experiment.


Infiltration of heavy metal (HM) polluted wastewater can seriously compromise soil and groundwater quality. Interactions between mineral soil components (e.g. clay minerals) and dissolved organic matter (DOM) play a crucial role in determining HM mobility in soils. In this study, the influence of the timing of addition of DOM, i.e. concurrent with or prior to HMs, on HM mobility was explored in a set of continuous flow column experiments using well defined natural soil samples amended with goethite, birnessite and/or smectite. The soils were subjected to concurrent and sequential additions of solutions of DOM, and Cu, Ni and Zn. The resulting breakthrough curves were fitted with a modified dose-response model to obtain the adsorption capacity (q0). Addition of DOM prior to HMs moderately enhanced q0 of Cu (8-25%) compared to a control without DOM, except for the goethite amended soil that exhibited a 10% reduction due to the blocking of binding sites. Meanwhile, for both Zn and Ni sequential addition of DOM reduced q0 by 1-36% for all tested soils due to preferential binding of Zn and Ni to mineral phases. In contrast, concurrent addition of DOM and HMs resulted in a strong increase of q0 for all tested metals and all tested soil compositions compared to the control: 141-299% for Cu, 29-102% for Zn and 32-144% for Ni. Our study shows that when assessing the impact of soil pollution through HM containing wastewater it is crucial to take into account the presence of DOM.