Comparative evaluation of NTA and EDTA for extractive decontamination of Pb-polluted soils

Herschel Adams Elliott, G. A. Brown

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Nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA) and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) were compared for their ability to solubilize Pb from a highly-contaminated (PbT 21%) soil collected from a battery recycling facility. For chelant concentrations below 0.04 M (representing a 1:1 chelant-to-PbT molar ratio), EDTA released 10 to 30% more Pb than NTA. NTA-to-Pb T ratios greater than 1:1 reduced Pb recovery because of readsorption of Pb(NTA)24- onto positively-charged oxide soil components at pH < 8.5. For the EDTA system, however, complexation completely bound all coordination sites of Pb and EDTA, leaving no functional groups available for surface adsorption. Thus, Pb recovery progressively increased with higher EDTA concentrations, although the additional Pb release with each EDTA increment became smaller. For pH < 5 and EDTA/Pb of 2:1, Pb recovery exceeded 90%. The addition of 0.5 M NaC1O4 enhanced Pb recovery by EDTA for pH 5 to 12, but substantially suppressed recovery by NTA for pH < 11. Because Pb release by NTA was diminished by high ionic strength and chelant-to-metal ratios, NTA may be limited as a soil washing reagent. Stronger complexation and consistent Pb desorption behavior by EDTA favors its use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-369
Number of pages9
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jun 1 1989

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


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