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Remediation of toxic metal contaminated soil by washing with biodegradable aminopolycarboxylate chelants
Ex situ soil washing with synthetic extractants such as, aminopolycarboxylate chelants (APCs) is a viable treatment alternative for metal-contaminated site remediation. EDTA and its homologs are widely used among the APCs in the ex situ soil washing processes. These APCs are merely biodegradable and highly persistent in the aquatic environments leading to the post-use toxic effects. Therefore, an increasing interest is focused on the development and use of the eco-friendly APCs having better biodegradability and less environmental toxicity. The paper deals with the results from the lab-scale washing treatments of a real sample of metal-contaminated soil for the removal of the ecotoxic metal ions (Cd, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn) using five biodegradable APCs, namely [S,S]-ethylenediaminedisuccinic acid, imminodisuccinic acid, methylglycinediacetic acid, DL-2-(2-carboxymethyl) nitrilotriacetic acid (GLDA), and 3-hydroxy-2,2'-iminodisuccinic acid. The performance of those biodegradable APCs was evaluated for their interaction with the soil mineral constituents in terms of the solution pH and metal-chelant stability constants, and compared with that of EDTA. Speciation calculations were performed to identify the optimal conditions for the washing process in terms of the metal-chelant interactions as well as to understand the selectivity in the separation ability of the biodegradable chelants towards the metal ions. A linear relationship between the metal extraction capacity of the individual chelants towards each of the metal ions from the soil matrix and metal-chelant conditional stability constants for a solution pH greater than 6 was observed. Additional considerations were derived from the behavior of the major potentially interfering cations (Al, Ca, Fe, Mg, and Mn), and it was hypothesized that use of an excess of chelant may minimize the possible competition effects during the single-step washing treatments. Sequential extraction procedure was used to determine the metal distribution in the soil before and after the extractive decontamination using biodegradable APCs, and the capability of the APCs in removing the metal ions even from the theoretically immobilized fraction of the contaminated soil was observed. GLDA appeared to possess the greatest potential to decontaminate the soil through ex situ washing treatment compared to the other biodegradable chelants used in the study. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
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