Migration of heavy metals in soil as influenced by compost amendments

Mark Farrell, William T. Perkins, Phil J. Hobbs, Gareth W. Griffith, Davey L. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


Soils contaminated with heavy metals can pose a major risk to freshwaters and food chains. In this study, the success of organic and inorganic intervention strategies to alleviate toxicity in a highly acidic soil heavily contaminated with As, Cu, Pb, and Zn was evaluated over 112 d in a mesocosm trial. Amelioration of metal toxicity was assessed by measuring changes in soil solution chemistry, metal leaching, plant growth, and foliar metal accumulation. Either green waste- or MSW-derived composts increased plant yield and rooting depth, reduced plant metal uptake, and raised the pH and nutrient status of the soil. We conclude that composts are well suited for promoting the re-vegetation of contaminated sites; however, care must be taken to ensure that very short-term leaching pulses of heavy metals induced by compost amendment are not of sufficient magnitude to cause contamination of the wider environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-64
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


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