The influence of wastewater irrigation on the transformation and bioavailability of heavy metal(loid)s in soil

Anitha Kunhikrishnan, Nanthi S. Bolan, Karin Müller, Seth Laurenson, Ravi Naidu, Won Il Kim

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review

70 Citations (Scopus)


With pressure increasing on potable water supplies worldwide, interest in using alternative water supplies including recycled wastewater for irrigation purposes is growing. Wastewater is derived from a number of sources including domestic sewage effluent or municipal wastewater, agricultural (farm effluents) and industrial effluents, and stormwater. Although wastewater irrigation has many positive effects like reliable water supply to farmers, better crop yield, pollution reduction of rivers, and other surface water resources, there are problems associated with it such as health risks to irrigators, build-up of chemical pollutants (e.g., heavy metal(loid)s and pesticides) in soils and contamination of groundwater. Since the environment comprises soil, plants, and soil organisms, wastewater use is directly associated with environmental quality due to its immediate contact with the soil-plant system and consequently can impact on it. For example, the presence of organic matter in wastewater-irrigated sites significantly affects the mobility and bioavailability of heavy metal(loid)s in the soil. Wastewater irrigation can also act as a source of heavy metal(loid) input to soils. In this chapter, first, the various sources of wastewater irrigation and heavy metal(loid) input to soil are identified; second, the effect of wastewater irrigation on soil properties affecting heavy metal(loid) interactions is described; and third and finally, the role of wastewater irrigation on heavy metal(loid) dynamics including adsorption and complexation, redox reactions, transport, and bioavailability is described in relation to strategies designed to mitigate wastewater-induced environmental impacts.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Agronomy
Number of pages83
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Agronomy
ISSN (Print)0065-2113


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