Metal mobility assessment for the application of an urban organic waste amendment in two degraded semiarid soils

Isabel Párraga-Aguado, José Álvarez-Rogel, María Nazaret González-Alcaraz, Héctor M. Conesa*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Urban organic waste materials may find a potential use as amendments in agricultural or environmental fields. However, before being applied in field practices, urban organic wastes must meet some environmental and legal requirements. The objective of this work was to assess the metal (Cd, Cu, Mn, Pb and Zn) extractability in two amended degraded semiarid soils (a former agricultural soil and a mine tailings soil) employing an urban organic waste amendment. A seven-steps sequential extraction procedure was performed in order to determine the changes in metal (Cd, Cu, Mn, Pb and Zn) fractionation, after two weeks and after eight months of soil incubation in pots. The urban organic waste increased organic carbon at both soils but it did not affected pH. At both soils, the addition of the amendment increased the labile fractions of metals, especially Cu (up to 13% of total content). In the amended agricultural soil the incubation favoured the fractions associated to Mn oxides (for Mn and Zn) and organic matter (for Cu), probably due to the higher buffer capacity of the soil (pH ~ 8, high CaCO3, loam texture). In the amended mine tailings soil, with lower buffer capacity (pH ~ 7, low CaCO3, loamy sand texture), there was a redistribution into more labile fractions associated to carbonates (Mn, Pb and Zn). In low buffer capacity soils, such as the case of the mine tailings soil, the changes generated by the mineralisation of the organic matter may alter heavy metal fractionation promoting the increase of carbonate bound fractions, which could be easily mobilisable. The assessment of the long-term dynamics of organic matter mineralisation and its relation to metal geochemistry is necessary to provide a safe employment of this urban organic waste for restoring degraded soils.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)92-98
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Geochemical Exploration
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


    • Heavy metals
    • Mine tailings
    • Sequential extraction
    • Soil contamination


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