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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Karen Johnson

Findlay, Nina C., Peacock, Caroline L., Hudson-Edwards, Karen A. & Johnson, Karen L. (2021). Characteristics and Mechanisms of Pb(II) Sorption onto Fe-rich waste Water Treatment Residue (WTR): A potential sustainable Pb immobilisation technology for soils. Journal of Hazardous Materials 402: 123433.

Author(s) from Durham


Pb contamination of soils is a global problem. This paper discusses the ability of an Fe-rich waste, water treatment residual (WTR), to adsorb Pb(II). This was investigated using batch sorption experiments, X-ray diffraction, electron microprobe microanalysis, PHREEQC modelling and Extended X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (EXAFS) analysis. The WTR is composed of approximately 23 wt. % natural organic matter (NOM), 70 wt. % ferrihydrite and <10 wt. % silicate material. Pb(II) sorption to WTR was dependent on initial Pb(II) load, particle size, time and pH, but not on ionic strength. EXAFS analysis at the Pb LIII-edge confirmed that Pb(II) sorbed to WTR by co-existing bidentate edge-sharing and monodentate or corner-sharing complexes, with 2 O at ∼2.31–2.34 Å, 1 Fe at ∼3.32–3.34 Å, 2 Fe at ∼3.97–3.99 Å and 1 Pb at ∼3.82–3.85 Å. Linear combination showed that the Pb(II)-sorbed spectra were best fit with a ∼0.9 ± 0.1 and 0.1 ± 0.1 contribution from Pb(II)-sorbed ferrihydrite and Pb(II)-sorbed humic acid end members, respectively. Overall, we show that Pb(II) sorbs via strong inner-sphere complexation of Pb(II) to the ferrihydrite component of the WTR, which itself is stable over a wide pH range. Therefore, we suggest that Fe-rich WTR wastes could be used as effective adsorbents in Pb(II)-contaminated soils to help ensure sustainable terrestrial ecosystems.