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Environ Pollut. 2003;125(2):213-25.

The solid-solution partitioning of heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb) in upland soils of England and Wales.

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  • 1Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (Windermere), Cumbria LA22 0LP, Ambleside, UK.


Ninety-eight surface soils were sampled from the uplands of England and Wales, and analysed for loss-on-ignition (LOI), and total and dissolved base cations, Al, Fe, and trace heavy metals (Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb). The samples covered wide ranges of pH (3.4-8.3) and LOI (9-98%). Soil metal contents measured by extraction with 0.43 mol l-1 HNO3 and 0.1 mol l-1 EDTA were very similar, and generally lower than values obtained by extraction with a mixture of concentrated nitric and perchloric acids. Total heavy metal concentrations in soil solution depend positively upon soil metal content and [DOC], and negatively upon pH and LOI, values of r2 ranging from 0.39 (Cu) to 0.81 (Pb). Stronger correlations (r2=0.76-0.95) were obtained by multiple regression analysis involving free metal ion (Cu2+, Zn2+, Cd2+, Pb2+) concentrations calculated with the equilibrium speciation model WHAM/Model VI. The free metal ion concentrations depend positively upon MHNO3 and negatively upon pH and LOI. The data were also analysed by using WHAM/Model VI to describe solid-solution interactions as well as solution speciation; this involved calibrating each soil sample by adjusting the content of "active" humic matter to match the observed soil pH. The calibrated model provided fair predictions of total heavy metal concentrations in soil solution, and predicted free metal ion concentrations were in reasonable agreement with the values obtained from solution-only speciation calculations.

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