Chemical Stabilization of Arsenic in Contaminated Soil under Low Redox Conditions
Abstract: Remediation techniques for arsenic contaminated soil have previously focused mostly on the surface soil layers where aerobic conditions are prevalent. In this master thesis, chemical stabilization by adding zero-valent iron (Fe(0)) and calcium oxide (CaO) to an arsenic-contaminated soil under low redox conditions have been studied through up-flow percolation tests. Over a time of 2 months, pH, conductivity, redox potential and concentrations of major and minor elements including As, Zn, Cu, Cd, Fe and Ca under both fluctuating and continuous flow were measured. Results indicate that CaO is a very promising amendment to use under conditions of low redox, immobilizing 98% of the As and 50-65% of Zn, Cd and Cr over the 8 weeks of testing, compared to the untreated soil. Copper on the other hand was mobilized by the treatment; but as the concentrations of Cu in the soil was low the increased leaching would in this case not be problematic. The leached water also had a very alkaline pH at 13, while conductivity was relatively high at 6.5 mS cm-1 and the redox potential remained negative throughout the two months. Geochemical modelling indicate that the immobilization of As is most likely controlled by precipitation of Ca-As-complexes as well as ettringite and portlandite. The precipitation of these minerals are controlled by pH, while redox conditions were shown to not be a controlling factor. The alkalinity of the CaO-amended soil was very high and it is expected that the alkaline conditions controlling the immobilization of As will prevail for hundreds of years. Fe(0) that previously has shown good results in stabilizing As under oxidized conditions did not effectively immobilize As under the low redox conditions in this study. Rather, the leaching of As and metals like Cr, Cd, Cu and Zn showed very similar results as the untreated soil. The results signifies the importance of activating the Fe(0) beforehand to allow amorphous Fe-oxides to form to which the metal(loids) can sorb to. In the study it was also observed that a fluctuating groundwater table could have an effect on both untreated and treated soil as wet and dry cycles influenced the leached concentrations of As and many other elements. More As was leached during the dry days in the untreated soil and the soil treated with Fe(0), while the opposite was true for the CaO-treated soil. The results suggests that using CaO as an amendment to treat As-contaminated soil is a method that potentially can be used for soils that have low redox conditions, for example soils below the groundwater table and landfills, although caution should be used in situations with more complex contamination, e.g. where both As and Cu are present.
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