Assessment of optimal conditions for the restoration and recovery of agricultural soil.


Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, Via di Biasio 43, 03043, Cassino, Italy. Electronic address: [Email]


We assessed whether soil with high Cr contamination could be reclaimed by alkali, mineral, and organic acid-based ligands (OABLs) washing. We tested HNO3, H2SO4, HCl, NaOH, H2O2, lactic acid (LA), malic acid (MA), oxalic acid (OA), and citric acid (CA), together with EDTA, obtaining the highest efficiencies in presence of 1 M sulfuric acid (98%). Nonetheless we noted that using OABLs, we obtained a Cr(III) removal efficiency similar to the one obtained using mineral acids. Indeed 1 M of LA and MA and 0.8 M of OA allowed obtaining, respectively, 88%, 75%, and 67% removal percentage. The extraction process with OABLs was strongly dependent on intraparticle diffusion of Cr-LA, Cr-MA, and Cr-OA complexes. We also determined the apparent diffusion coefficients. Residual toxicity of treated soils was tested with the nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans. The OABL washing generally allowed getting a soil without Cr and with reduced toxicity. However, the washing process also removed other cations that acted as nutrients. Consequently, we conducted toxicity tests on enriched soil and found that the mortality index improved. In some cases (LA and MA), mortality was comparable to that observed with uncontaminated control samples. In contrast, when contaminated soils were washed with sulfuric acid, in all conditions, we observed significant ecotoxicity. Therefore, we concluded that only the OABL treatment provided a non-toxic soil that could be reused for anthropic activities.


Caenorhabditis elegans,Cr removal,Cr(III) complexes,Organic acid-based ligands,Soil reclamation,