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J Environ Qual. 2013 May-Jun;42(3):640-53. doi: 10.2134/jeq2012.0323.

Modeling approaches of competitive sorption and transport of trace metals and metalloids in soils: a review.


Competition among various heavy metal species for available adsorption sites on soil matrix surfaces can enhance the mobility of contaminants in the soil environment. Accurate predictions of the fate and behavior of heavy metals in soils and geologic media requires the understanding of the underlying competitive-sorption and transport processes. In this review, we present equilibrium and kinetic models for competitive heavy metal sorption and transport in soils. Several examples are summarized to illustrate the impact of competing ions on the reactivities and mobility of heavy metals in the soil-water environment. We demonstrate that equilibrium Freundlich approaches can be extended to account for competitive sorption of cations and anions with the incorporation of competition coefficients associated with each reaction. Furthermore, retention models of the multiple-reaction type including the two-site nonlinear equilibrium-kinetic models and the concurrent- and consecutive-multireaction models were modified to describe commonly observed time-dependent behaviors of heavy metals in soils. We also show that equilibrium Langmuir and kinetic second-order models can be extended to simulate the competitive sorption and transport in soils, although the use of such models is limited due to their simplifying assumptions. A major drawback of the empirically based Freundlich and Langmuir approaches is that their associated parameters are specific for each soil. Alternatively, geochemical models that are based on ion-exchange and surface-complexation concepts are capable of quantifying the competitive behavior of several chemical species under a wide range of environmental conditions. Such geochemical models, however, are incapable of describing the time-dependent sorption behavior of heavy metal ions in competitive systems. Further research is needed to develop a general-purpose model based on physical and chemical mechanisms governing competitive sorption in soils.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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