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In situ chemical fixation of arsenic-contaminated soils: An experimental study

  • Author(s): Yang, Li
  • Donahoe, Rona J.
  • Redwine, James C.
  • et al.
Abstract

This paper reports the results of an experimental study testing a low-cost in situ chemical fixation method designed to reclaim arsenic-contaminated subsurface soils. Subsurface soils from several industrial sites in southeastern U.S. were contaminated with arsenic through heavy application of herbicide containing arsenic trioxide. The mean concentrations of environmentally available arsenic in soils collected from the two study sites, FW and BH, are 325 mg/kg and 900 mg/kg, respectively. The soils are sandy loams with varying mineralogical and organic contents. The previous study [Yang L, Donahoe RJ. The form, distribution and mobility of arsenic in soils contaminated by arsenic trioxide, at sites in Southeast USA. Appl Geochem 2007;22:320 341] indicated that a large portion of the arsenic in both soils is associated with amorphous aluminum and iron oxyhydroxides and shows very slow release against leaching by synthetic precipitation. The soil's amorphous aluminum and iron oxyhydroxides content was found to have the most significant effect on its ability to retain arsenic.Based on this observation, contaminated soils were reacted with different treatment solutions in an effort to promote the formation of insoluble arsenic-bearing phases and thereby decrease the leachability of arsenic. Ferrous sulfate, potassium permanganate and calcium carbonate were used as the reagents for the chemical fixation solutions evaluated in three sets of batch experiments: (1) FeSO4; (2) FeSO4 and KMnO4; (3) FeSO4, KMnO4 and CaCO3. The optimum treatment solutions for each soil were identified based on the mobility of arsenic during sequential leaching of treated and untreated soils using the fluids described in EPA Method 1311 [USEPA. Method 1311: toxicity characteristic leaching procedure. Test methods for evaluating solid waste, physical/chemical methods. 3rd ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste. U.S. Government Printing Office; 1992] toxic characteristics leaching procedure (TCLP) and EPA Method 1312 [USEPA. Method 1312: synthetic precipitation leaching procedure. Test methods for evaluating solid waste, physical/chemical methods. 3rd ed. Washington, DC: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Solid Waste. U.S. Government Printing Office; 1994] synthetic precipitation leaching procedure (SPLP).Both FW and BH soils showed significant decreases in arsenic leachability for all three treatment solutions, compared to untreated soil. While soils treated with solution (3) showed the best results with subsequent TCLP sequential leaching, SPLP sequential leaching of treated soils indicated that lowest arsenic mobility was obtained using treatment solution (1). Treatment solution (1) with only FeSO4 is considered the best choice for remediation of arsenic-contaminated soil because SPLP sequential leaching better simulates natural weathering. Analysis of treated soils produced no evidence of newly-formed arsenic-bearing phases in either soil after treatment. Sequential chemical extractions of treated soils indicate that surface complexation of arsenic on ferric hydroxide is the major mechanism for the fixation process.

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