University of Paris-Est, Laboratoire Géomatériaux et Environnement (EA 4508), UPEM, 77454 Marne-la-Vallée, France; University of Limoges, PEIRENE, Equipe Développement d'indicateurs ou prévision de la qualité des eaux, URA IRSTEA, 123 Avenue Albert Thomas, 87060 Limoges Cedex, France; University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, via Gaetano di Biasio 43, 03043 Cassino (FR), Italy. Electronic address: [Email]
This study proposes an evaluation of the diffusive gradients in thin films technique (DGT) for studying trace elements in digested sewage sludge samples. Twelve elements were monitored by Chelex (Al, Cd, Co, Cr (III), Cu, Fe, Mn, Ni, Pb) and zirconia-DGT (As, Mo, Se) samplers exposed from 4 h to 9 days. Twenty-four hours' deployment time was suitable for most of the studied elements. However, short deployment led to insufficient element accumulation or non-establishment of steady state while long deployment (from 18 to 144 h depending on the element) led to saturation of the binding gels and/or competing effects with other major elements. In addition, this study showed that the matrix of the digested sewage sludge lowers the accumulation of some trace elements in the DGT samplers, leading to labile concentrations underestimation of roughly 10-30% (depending on the element). Moreover, compared to the conventional total dissolved elements measurement, DGT technique allowed to quantify 7 out of 12 labile elements whereas only 3 out of 12 dissolved elements were quantified. These results highlight the potential of DGT technique to assess labile trace elements in digestate samples, provided a careful adaptation of the deployment time as well as an evaluation of the matrix effect is performed.