MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: Use of peat to absorb zinc and lead effluent

Date: Thu Apr 15 08:43:30 1999
Posted By: Charles McClaugherty, Faculty, Environmental Science (Ecology), Mount Union College
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 921688019.Ch

Heavy metals adsorb to organic materials largely due to surface charges on 
the colloidal organic particles.  In the case of peat there is some 
additional retention simply due to the enormous water holding capacity of 
the peat.  Because the retention of metals is charge dependent it is also 
to some degeree pH dependent and redox dependent.  Metals form different 
secondary compunds in a reducing environment than in an oxidizing 
environment.  In any event, as the peat decomposes, the metals may be 
released back into the environment as salts or incorporated into decomposer 
The degree of decomposition in the peat is also important as it will 
influence the surface area and net charge of the organic substances.
If you want to look at the scientific literature on this there has been 
work done on organic ammendments to soils, but I am not immediately aware 
of specific citations.

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