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Waste Manag. 2006;26(9):988-1004. Epub 2005 Nov 17.

Heavy metal removal from contaminated sludge for land application: a review.

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Environmental Technology Program, Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology (SIIT), Thammasat University, P.O. Box 22, Pathumthani 12121, Thailand.


In recent years, various methods for heavy metal removal from sewage sludge have been extensively studied in order to minimize the prospective health risks of sludge during land application. In this paper, a comparative review and critical analysis of the application of chemical extraction, bioleaching, electroreclamation, and supercritical fluid extraction (SFE), in removing heavy metals from contaminated sludges is presented. Moreover, speciation studies, which can indicate ease of leachability of the different forms of heavy metals in sludge, are also presented. Experimental studies revealed a broad range in metal extraction efficiencies of the different extraction technologies. Acid treatment seemed to effectively remove Cd, attaining as much as 100% removal for some studies, as compared to bioleaching. SFE also gave higher removal efficiency than bioleaching. Cr, Pb and Ni seemed to be also effectively removed by the acid treatment. For the removal of Cu, Mn and Zn, the bioleaching process seemed to be appropriate with maximum removal efficiencies of 91%, 93% and 96% for the three metals, respectively, and as high as 64% minimum removal efficiency for Zn. The SFE process also gave good results for Cu, Mn and Zn removal. Electroreclamation exhibited better removal efficiency for Mn, but is still inferior to acid treatment and bioleaching processes. For chemical extraction, because of the adverse impacts that can result from the use of inorganic acids and complexing agents, interest can be directed more toward utilizing organic acids as extracting agents because of their biodegradability and capability to remove metals at mildly acidic condition, hence requiring less acid. The bioleaching process, although it seems to give a higher yield of metal extraction with lower chemical cost than chemical extraction, may be limited by the inability of the system to cope with the natural environmental conditions, requires strict monitoring of aeration rate and temperature and has applicability to only low sludge solids concentration. A full-scale study would be useful to better assess the efficiency of the process. The electroreclamation technology is limited by its relatively higher energy consumption and limited applicability to sludge. The SFE method, on the other hand, is limited by the complexity of the process and the cost of ligands suitable for effective metal extraction. Both of these technologies are still in their early stage of application and hence there is a need for further basic and applied studies. Finally, the common advantage for almost all treatment technologies studied is that the extraction efficiencies for some metals are high enough to remove metals from sludge to levels suitable for land application.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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