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Environ Pollut. 2003;122(1):19-28.

Phosphate-induced metal immobilization in a contaminated site.

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Soil and Water Science Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA.


To assess the efficiency of P-induced metal immobilization in soils, a pilot-scale field experiment was conducted at a metal contaminated site located in central Florida. Phosphate was applied at a P/Pb molar ratio of 4.0 with three treatments: 100% of P from H3PO4, 50% of P from H3PO4+ 50% of P from Ca(H2PO4)2, and 50% of P from H3PO4+5% phosphate rock in the soil. Approximately 1 year after P application, soil and plant samples were collected to determine mobility and bioavailability of selected metals (Pb, Zn, and Cu) using sequential extraction procedure and mineralogical characterization using X-ray diffraction (XRD) and scanning electron microscope-energy dispersive X-ray (SEM-EDX) analysis. Phosphorus distribution and soil pH effects were also evaluated. Phosphate was more effective in transforming soil Pb (to 53%) from the non-residual to the residual phase than soil Zn (to 15%) and soil Cu (to 13%). This was because Pb was immobilized by P via formation of an insoluble pyromorphite-like mineral in the surface and subsurface of the soil, whereas no phosphate mineral Zn or Cu was identified. While P amendment enhanced metal uptake in the roots of St. Augustine grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), it significantly reduced metal translocation from root to shoot, especially Pb via formation of a pyromorphite-like mineral on the membrane surface of the root. A mixture of H3PO4 and phosphate rock was effective in metal immobilization, with less soil pH reduction and less soluble P. Although H3PO4 was effective in immobilizing Pb, its use should be limited to minimize soil pH reduction and potential eutrophication risk.

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