Environmental Science and Pollution Research vol:22 pages:2205-2218
This study investigates the solid phase characteristics and release of heavy metals (i.e., Cd, Co, Cu, Cr, Mo, Ni, Pb, and Zn) and arsenic (As) from sludge samples derived from industrial wastewater treatment plants. The emphasis is determining the influence of acidification on element mobilization based on a multidisciplinary approach that combines cascade and pHstat leaching tests with solid phase characterization through X-ray diffraction (XRD), field emission gun electron probe micro analysis (FEG-EPMA), and thermodynamic modeling (Visual MinteQ 3.0). Solid phase characterization and thermodynamic modeling results allow prediction of Ni and Zn leachabilities. FEG-EPMA is useful for direct solid phase characterization because it provides information on additional phases including specific element associations that cannot be detected by XRD analysis. Cascade and pHstat leaching test results indicate that disposal of improperly treated sludges at landfills may lead to extreme environmental risks due to high leachable concentrations of Zn, Ni, Cu, Cr, and Pb. However, high leachabilities under acid conditions of Ni and Zn as observed from pHstat leaching test results may provide a potential opportunity for acid extraction recovery of Ni and Zn from such sludges.