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Chemosphere. 2006 Jan;62(2):171-80. Epub 2005 Jul 21.

Immobilization of heavy metals in polluted soils by the addition of zeolitic material synthesized from coal fly ash.

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Institute of Earth Sciences Jaume Almera (CSIC) c/Lluis Solé i Sabarís, s/n, 08028, Barcelona, Spain.


The use of zeolitic material synthesized from coal fly ash for the immobilization of pollutants in contaminated soils was investigated in experimental plots in the Guadiamar Valley (SW Spain). This area was affected by a pyrite slurry spill in April 1998. Although reclamation activities were completed in a few months, residual pyrite slurry mixed with soil accounted for relatively high leachable levels of trace elements such as Zn, Pb, As, Cu, Sb, Co, Tl and Cd. Phytoremediation strategies were adopted for the final recovery of the polluted soils. The immobilization of metals had previously been undertaken to avoid leaching processes and the consequent groundwater pollution. To this end, 1100 kg of high NaP1 (Na6[(AlO2)6(SiO2)10] .15H2O) zeolitic material was synthesized using fly ash from the Teruel power plant (NE Spain), in a 10 m3 reactor. This zeolitic material was manually applied using different doses (10000-25000 kg per hectare), into the 25 cm topsoil. Another plot (control) was maintained without zeolite. Sampling was carried out 1 and 2 years after the zeolite addition. The results show that the zeolitic material considerably decreases the leaching of Cd, Co, Cu, Ni, and Zn. The sorption of metals in soil clay minerals (illite) proved to be the main cause contributing to the immobilization of these pollutants. This sorption could be a consequence of the rise in pH from 3.3 to 7.6 owing to the alkalinity of the zeolitic material added (caused by traces of free lime in the fly ash, or residual NaOH from synthesis).

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