Competitive Sorption Behavior of Arsenic, Selenium, Copper and Lead by Soil and Biosolid Nano- and Macro-Colloid Particles


Limited information exists on natural nanocolloid sorption behavior of As, Se, Cu and Pb in the environment. They are expected to have variable competitive sorption characteristics depending on size and composition and may transport elevated contaminant loads into surface and ground waters. A comprehensive characterization of their interactions with contaminants could provide a better understanding of the risks they pose to the environment. This study evaluated the sorption behavior of soil and biosolid nano- and macro-colloids with different mineralogical compositions for As, Se, Cu, and Pb contaminants. Single- and multi-contaminant Freundlich isotherms were us- ed to evaluate sorption affinity for the contaminants among the different colloid sizes and compositions. Sorption trends based on size indicated greater affinity for As and Cu by the smectitic and kaolinitic nanocolloids, greater affinity for Pb by the kaolinitic nanocolloids, and greater affinity for As, Se and Pb by bio-nanocolloids over corresponding macrocolloid fractions. Both, single- and multi-contaminant isotherms indicated sorption preferences for cation over anion contaminants, but with somewhat contrasting sequences depending on size and composition. Multi-contaminant isotherms generally predicted greater sorption affinities likely due to bridging effects, particularly for anionic contaminants. Surface properties such as zeta potentials, cation exchange capacity (CEC), surface area (SA), organic carbon (OC), and OC:SA significantly but variably affected sorption characteristics among the differing colloid sizes and compositions. Colloid zeta potential and pH shifts in the presence of different contaminant loads suggested prevalence of inner sphere bonding mechanisms for sorption of cation contaminants by mineral colloids and outer sphere sorption for cation and anion contaminants by bio-colloids.

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Ghezzi, J. , Karathanasis, A. , Matocha, C. , Unrine, J. and Thompson, Y. (2014) Competitive Sorption Behavior of Arsenic, Selenium, Copper and Lead by Soil and Biosolid Nano- and Macro-Colloid Particles. Open Journal of Soil Science, 4, 293-304. doi: 10.4236/ojss.2014.49031.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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