Production, characterisation, utilisation, and beneficial soil application of steel slag: A review

James O'Connor, Thi Bang Tuyen Nguyen, Tom Honeyands, Brian Monaghan, Damien O'Dea, Jörg Rinklebe, Ajayan Vinu, Son A. Hoang, Gurwinder Singh, M. B. Kirkham, Nanthi Bolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Slags are a co-product produced by the steel manufacturing industry and have mainly been utilised for aggregates in concreting and road construction. The increased utilisation of slag can increase economic growth and sustainability for future generations by creating a closed-loop system, circular economy within the metallurgical industries. Slags can be used as a soil amendment, and slag characteristics may reduce leachate potential of heavy metals, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as contain essential nutrients required for agricultural use and environmental remediation. This review aims to examine various slag generation processes in steel plants, their physicochemical characteristics in relation to beneficial utilisation as a soil amendment, and environmental implications and risk assessment of their utilisation in agricultural soils. In relation to enhancing recycling of these resources, current and emerging techniques to separate iron and phosphorus slag compositions are also outlined in this review. Although there are no known immediate direct threats posed by slag on human health, the associated risks include potential heavy metal contamination, leachate contamination, and bioaccumulation of heavy metals in plants, thereby reaching the food chain. Further research in this area is required to assess the long-term effects of slag in agricultural soils on animal and human health.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126478
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2021


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