Title page for ETD etd-11022001-113053

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Fike, Wonae Bong
Author's Email Address wfike@vt.edu
URN etd-11022001-113053
Title Sorption of Cadmium, Copper, Lead, and Zinc as influenced by pH, ionic strength and selected soil components
Degree PhD
Department Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Martens, David C. Committee Co-Chair
Reneau, Raymond B. Jr. Committee Co-Chair
Berry, Duane F. Committee Member
Radcliffe, J. S. Committee Member
Zelazny, Lucian W. Committee Member
  • adsorption isotherm models
  • heavy metals
  • iso-concentration line
  • EC
Date of Defense 2001-08-24
Availability unrestricted
Metals sorption in soils is influenced by several factors, including pH, ionic strength, the presence of ionic composition or organic ligands, total amount of metals, and adsorbent loading. These conditions should be considered when evaluating metal sorption capacity of soil material or when applying laboratory results to field conditions. Metal sorption experiments were conducted on Bertie sandy and Starr-Dyke clay loam soils from long-term field studies in which soils received annual applications of copper-rich pig manure for 16 years.

Adsorption of Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn as affected by different background electrolytes at various concentrations was investigated. Electrolytes were Na+, Ca2+, or Al3+ in perchlorate solution, and their concentrations ranged from 0.001 to 0.5 molc L-1. Increasing ionic strength decreased metal adsorption capacity. Electrolyte cation composition had a greater effect on adsorption than did electrolyte concentration. The order of sensitivity to cation composition of the electrolyte was Zn > Cd > Cu > Pb, and this effect was greater in Bertie sandy loam than Starr-Dyke clay loam soils. Little difference in Cu and Pb adsorption was observed between Na+ and Ca2+ in background solution.

Most added Cu was adsorbed at low concentrations regardless of pH, but at high concentrations Cu sorption was strongly related to solution pH. Increases in pH resulted in greater Cu sorption due to pH-dependent negative charges and precipitation. The USEPA recommends that soil systems receiving high metal loading rates be maintained at pH 6.5 or above because of the increased metal adsorption. However, pig manure applications to the Bertie soil resulted in greater Cu in soil solution than in control (no manure) soil at pH > 6.5 due to soluble organic matter.

Using the Langmuir equation to determine adsorption maxima for soil systems does not always give adequate estimates of adsorption and values from the equations are highly dependent upon soil environmental parameters. Given the limitations in prediction of adsorption maxima, and given that the amount of nonsorbed metal is as important as the adsorbed amount, the isolines of metal remaining in soil solution were provided with a given set of soil environmental factors.

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