Constructed wetlands for steel slag leachate management: Partitioning of arsenic, chromium, and vanadium in waters, sediments, and plants.


Department of Geography, Geology and Environment, University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Hull, HU6 7RX, UK; Food, Water, Waste Research Group; Faculty of Engineering, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK. Electronic address: [Email]


Constructed wetlands can treat highly alkaline leachate resulting from the weathering of steel slag before reuse (e.g. as aggregate) or during disposal in repositories and legacy sites. This study aimed to assess how metal(loid)s soluble at high pH, such as arsenic (As), chromium (Cr), and vanadium (V) are removed in constructed wetlands and how they accumulate in the sediments and the plants (Phragmites australis, common reed). The results show that reedbeds were very effective at removing calcium (98%), aluminium (81%), barium (98%), chromium (90%), gallium (80%), nickel (98%), and zinc (98%), and lowering pH and alkalinity. No statistical difference was found for As and V between leachate influent and wetland samples, showing that these metal(loid)s were not efficiently removed. As, Cr, and V were significantly higher in the reedbed sediments than in a reference site. However, sediment concentrations are not at levels that would pose a concern regarding reuse for agricultural purposes (average values of 39 ± 26 mg kg-1 for As, 108 ± 15 mg kg-1 for Cr, and 231 ± 34 mg kg-1 for V). Also, there is no significant uptake of metals by the aboveground portions of the reeds compared to reference conditions. Results show statistically significant enrichment in metal(loid)s in rhizomes and also a seasonal effect on the Cr concentrations. The data suggest minimal risk of oxyanion-forming element uptake and cycling in wetlands receiving alkaline steel slag.


Alkaline drainage,Passive treatment,Phragmites australis,Reedbeds,Sediments,

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