Competitive adsorption of heavy metals by soils

H. A. Elliott, M. R. Liberati, C. P. Huang

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The competitive adsorption of Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn from 0.025 M NaClO4 solutions onto four soils with differing chemical properties was investigated with batch adsorption experiments. For two mineral soils, adsorption under acidic conditions (pH 5.0) followed the sequence Pb > Cu > Zn > Cd, which corresponds to the order of increasing pK for the first hydrolysis product (e.g., PbOH+) of the metal ions. In contrast, the order of selectivity for two soils containing 20 to 40 g kg-1 organic C was Pb > Cu > Cd > Zn, suggesting that organic matter (OM) increased Cd retention preferentially over that of Zn. When accompanied by a sizable reduction in cation exchange capacity (CEC), extraction of soil OM markedly reduced adsorption of all four metals. However, only Cd and Cu adsorption were appreciably smaller for a soil that maintained a sizable CEC following OM removal. Lead, and possibly Zn, adsorption by soils with substantial inorganic exchange sites may be unresponsive to organic waste amendments. For Cd and Cu, increased soil OM should restrict mobility and bioavailability, at least under acidic conditions where soluble metal complex formation is limited.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-219
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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