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J Environ Sci Health A Tox Hazard Subst Environ Eng. 2013;48(11):1390-8. doi: 10.1080/10934529.2013.781886.

Hexavalent chromium release from lignite fly ash and related ecotoxic effects.

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Division of Hydraulics and Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.


Hexavalent chromium Cr(VI) is a pollutant of immense concern due to its high mobility to water sources and highly toxic properties. In most cases, Cr(VI) could be released from lignite fly ash in aquatic environment when fly ash comes into contact with water. In this study, the contribution of the leaching patterns and bioavailability of Cr(VI) from lignite fly ash to the overall ecotoxic properties of fly ash leachates was originally examined and leaching procedures were evaluated in this context. A series of customized leaching tests were conducted and a battery of ecotoxicity tests including the crustacean Daphnia magna and the photobacterium Vibrio fischeri was applied. The leaching of Cr(VI) was pH and liquid to solid (L/S) ratio dependent, exhibiting the highest releases at pH values between 7 and 8. At the liquid to solid ratio (L/S) equal to 100 L/kg, the (CrVI) release reached a plateau, implying the presence of diffusion constrains and/or solubility hindrances. The toxic effect of the leachates obtained under leaching at pH 7 towards D. magna was relatively high (TU = 28.6 (23.8-35.7) at L/S = 10 L/kg). Interestingly, the toxicity of the leachates towards D. magna not only was significantly correlated to Cr(VI) (r = 0.961, P < 0.01), but the toxicity of the leachates (in absolute values) was matching the toxicity of the Cr(VI) revealing its remarkable contribution to the overall effect. In addition, the lower sensitivity of the bacteria V. fischeri when exposed to the leachates, along with the time dependence of the toxicity profiles supported the interpretation of the results obtained in this study.

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