Proton buffering and metal leaching in sandy soils

P.M.J. Fest, E.J.M. Temminghoff, J. Griffioen, W.H. van Riemsdijk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Recent developments in acidification research focused on the leaching of metals from contaminated soil. In this paper the buffering of sandy soils upon acidification is studied in relation to the release of major (Al, Ca, Mg) and trace metals (Cu, Cd, Ni, Zn) from the soil reactive surface. The buffering process and the (de)sorption of metals are described with a mechanistic multisurface model, expressing the sorption onto different soil surfaces (organic matter, clay, Fe (hydr)oxides). The pH of sandy soil samples is predicted upon proton addition in combination with the behavior of major and trace metals. Acidification of contaminated sandy soil samples, with different pH levels and metal contents, is performed in a flow-through reactor by flushing the samples with acid solution. Acidification has taken place in successive steps of proton addition and followed by sampling. Prediction of pH upon acidification with a multisurface model gives satisfying results for all samples studied. The pH is modeled reasonably well between pH 6 and 4. Below pH 4 the predicted pH values are slightly too low, probably due to the buffering by Al-containing minerals (e.g., Al hydroxide), which are not included in the model. Desorption of major and trace metals upon pH decrease is, in general, predicted well, within a factor of 1-5 on a linear scale. Overall prediction of proton buffering in combination with desorption of metals in sandy soil samples, over a wide pH range and metal content, is done quite well for the studied metals with the multisurface model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7901-7908
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • natural organic-matter
  • donnan model parameters
  • humic substances
  • ion-binding
  • aluminum solubility
  • heavy-metals
  • mechanistic description
  • na-montmorillonite
  • contaminated soils
  • cation-binding


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