Copper extraction effectiveness and soil dissolution issues of EDTA-flushing of artificially contaminated soils

Daniel C.W. Tsang, Weihua Zhang, Irene M C Lo

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) was used as a reference chelating agent in column experiments to investigate the effectiveness of chelant-enhanced flushing of soils artificially contaminated under various conditions (low/high Cu loading, and aging). The associated soil dissolution issues were of particular concern. Dissolution of indigenous Fe/Al oxides, Ca carbonates and organic matter was monitored over the course of flushing. Regardless of contamination condition, above 85% extraction efficiency could be accomplished by 10-2and 10-3M EDTA-flushing, but not 10-4M. The Cu extraction kinetics positively correlated to EDTA concentration but inversely to Cu loading in soils. In addition to extraction from weakly sorbed fractions, a large portion of Cu was extracted from oxide, organic matter and residual fractions, which appears to derive from soil dissolution. Cumulative dissolved amounts of Fe, Al, and Ca were found to reach as high as hundreds of mg kg-1, which were comparable to Cu contamination. Soil organic matter, which is known to strongly interact with Fe and Al oxides, was also mobilized. The rate and extent of these soil dissolutions were also positively correlated to EDTA concentration. Therefore, the co-extraction of soil minerals and organic matter during chelant-enhanced flushing, which would alter both physical structure and chemical properties of the soils, is detrimental to future land use and deserves greater attention. The concentration of chelating agent is the most crucial factor for an effective soil flushing with minimal damage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-243
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Chelating agent
  • Dissolution
  • EDTA
  • Fe/Al oxides
  • Organic matter
  • Soil flushing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)

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