Metal immobilization in soils using synthetic zeolites

L.A. Osté, T.M. Lexmond, W.H. van Riemsdijk

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120 Citations (Scopus)


In situ immobilization of heavy metals in contaminated soils is a technique to improve soil quality. Synthetic zeolites are potentially useful additives to bind heavy metals. This study selected the most effective zeolite in cadmium and zinc binding out of six synthetic zeolites (mordenite-type, faujasite-type, zeolite X, zeolite P, and two zeolites A) and one natural zeolite (clinoptilolite). Zeolite A appeared to have the highest binding capacity between pH 5 and 6.5 and was stable above pH 5.5. The second objective of this study was to investigate the effects of zeolite addition on the dissolved organic matter (DOM) concentration. Since zeolites increase soil pH and bind Ca, their application might lead to dispersion of organic matter. In a batch experiment, the DOM concentration increased by a factor of 5 when the pH increased from 6 to 8 as a result of zeolite A addition. A strong increase in DOM was also found in the leachate of soil columns, particularly in the beginning of the experiment. This resulted in higher metal leaching caused by metal¿DOM complexes. In contrast, the free ionic concentration of Cd and Zn strongly decreased after the addition of zeolites, which might explain the reduction in metal uptake observed in plant growth experiments. Pretreatment of zeolites with acid (to prevent a pH increase) or Ca (to coagulate organic matter) suppressed the dispersion of organic matter, but also decreased the metal binding capacity of the zeolites due to competition of protons or Ca
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)813-821
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • organic-matter
  • contaminated soils
  • heavy-metals
  • cadmium
  • zinc
  • ph
  • heterogeneity
  • inactivation
  • accumulation
  • remediation

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