Remediation of metal polluted mine soil with compost: Co-composting versus incorporation

Susan Tandy, John R. Healey, Mark A. Nason, Julie C. Williamson, Davey L. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

98 Citations (Scopus)


Trace element contamination of post-industrial sites represents a major environmental problem and sustainable management options for remediating them are required. This study compared two strategies for immobilizing trace elements (Cu, Pb, Zn, and As) in mine spoil: (1) co-composting contaminated soil with organic wastes and (2) conventional incorporation of mature compost into contaminated soil. Sequential chemical extraction of the soil was performed to determine temporal changes in trace element fractionation and bioavailability during composting and plant growth. We show that mine spoil can be co-composted successfully and this action causes significant shifts in metal availability. However, co-composting did not lead to significant differences in metal partitioning in soil or in plant metal uptake compared with simply mixing mine spoil with mature compost. Both treatments promoted plant growth and reduced metal accumulation in plants. We conclude that co-composting provides little additional benefit for remediating trace-element-polluted soil compared with incorporation of compost.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-697
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes

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