Mobilization of Cu and Zn in contaminated soil by nitrilotriacetic acid

J. H. Linn, H. A. Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Batch and upflow column leaching experiments were used to evaluate the nature and extent of Cu and Zn solubilization from contaminated soil by nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA) in 0.025 M NaClO4. In batch soil suspensions, NTA levels of 10-5 to 10-3 M substantially promoted Cu and Zn release from the metal-enriched soil. The ability of NTA to enhance Cu and Zn solubility decreased with increasing solution acidity probably due to competitive binding of NTA by protons and Fe released by hydrous oxide dissolution. However, in the pH range typically encountered in northeastern U.S. soils, soluble metal levels were nearly constant for a given NTA concentration. Leaching soil columns with NTA solutions enhanced Cu release more than Zn, as the enrichment ratio (cumulative metal leached by NTA compared to the 0.025 M NaClO4 control leachate) after 85 pore volumes displacements was 23.6 and 4.3 for Cu and Zn, respectively. While Cu release by 0.01 M CaCl2 differed little from the control, 0.01 M CaCl2 was substantially more effective than 10-5 M NTA in displacing bound Zn. The data reflect different retention mechanisms for Cu and Zn in this soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-458
Number of pages10
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Feb 1988

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


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