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Chemistry and the Environment Division (VI)


Number: 2004-003-3-600

Title: Biophysico-chemical processes of heavy metals and metalloids in soil environments

Task Group
Antonio Violante

Members: P.M. Huang and Geoffrey M. Gadd (book co-editor)
Richard G. Burns, Paul M. Bertsch, Henry L. Ehrlich, Nicola Senesi, Donald L. Sparks, Gunther Stotzky, Siobhán Staunton, and Jack T. Trevors

Completion Date: 2007 - project completed

To provide the scientific community with a critical evaluation by world-renowned international scientists of the state-of-the-art on the biophysico-chemical processes of metals and metalloids in soil environments including their interactions with soil components (clay minerals, organics, microorganisms). Specifics of heavy metal and metalloid mobility in different soil environments, including the rhizosphere, as influenced by physics, chemistry and biology of soil and their interactions will be examined. Finally, their speciation, mobility, bioavailability and toxicity and innovative restoration strategies of polluted soils will be addressed. In addition, the book would provide a source of reference materials for students, professors, researchers and practitioners.

Pollution induced by heavy metals and metalloids in soils is a very dangerous environmental problem because, as compared with other kinds of pollution (atmosphere and water), the soil environment has a much lower ability to recover. Furthermore, over 99% of environmental pollutants are bound with soil and sediment particles.

Heavy metals are well recognized as potentially toxic to plants and other living organisms. However, the mere presence of a toxic element in soil may not adversely affect organisms if that element is not in a biologically, chemically, or physically available chemical form. In soil, heavy metals interact with clay minerals, humic substances, microorganisms, extracellular enzymes, biopolymers and other organic and inorganic ligands.

The behaviour of heavy metals and metalloids depends on chemical and physico-chemical as well as biological factors associated with the microbial activities. Dynamics and equilibria of these elements in soil environments are significantly influenced by structural, surface and solution chemistry of soils and interactions of soil minerals with organic components and microorganisms. These physicochemical-biological interactions would influence the transfer of these elements from the inorganic and organic soil constituents to the soil solution and to plants.

Scientists interested in soil chemistry and mineralogy, soil biochemistry, plant nutrition, physiology and environmental sciences must interact with each other for understanding the biophysico-chemical processes of these pollutants in soil environments.

The present project is to prepare a book by a multidisciplinary group of soil and environmental scientists to provide the scientific community with a critical evaluation of the state-of-the-art on the processes of these elements in soil environments, their speciation, mobility, bioavailability and toxicity and their impact on the development of innovative restoration strategies. Biogeochemical processes operating in soil environments that affect the fate, behavior, and bioavailability of metals and metalloids is currently an area of active research. Yet, a comprehensive and detailed book of the state-of-knowledge is absent from scientific literature. This book will bring a critical qualitative and quantitative review of the fundamentals of the physics and chemistry of heavy-metal and metalloid interactions in soils and the influence of soil microorganisms on these processes. The latest advances in spectroscopy to study various aspect of heavy metal and metalloid interactions with inorganic and organic components will be reviewed. Furthermore, a chapter on the fractionation in relation to understanding the mobility of trace elements in environmental solids will be included.

The proposed book is insightful and different from other books, e.g. the book sponsored by SETAC Press. In fact, our book will focus more stringently on the fundamental processes, whereas in the SETAC book the application of the knowledge of the fundamentals to risk assessment is given a central place. In spite of a number of books that deal with different aspects of this topic, they are much more general or limited in coverage than that is proposed in our book.

It is proposed to have about 19 chapters in this book. These proposed chapter authors are leading international authorities on the subject matter.

This project was presented at a poster session at the IUPAC Congress/GA July 2005
>view pdf - 170KB<

Draft Contents (revised June 2005)

A. Fundamentals on the Interactions of Heavy Metals and Metalloids with Biotic and Abiotic Soil Components

  • Impacts of Soil Physicochemical-Biological Interactions on Metals and Metalloids Transformations: An Overview, by P.M. Huang
  • Kinetics and Mechanisms of Sorption/Desorption in Soils: A Multi-Scale Assessment, by D.L. Sparks and M.J. Borda
  • Spectroscopic Techniques for Studying Metal-Humic Substance Complexes in Soil: An Overview, by N. Senesi and E. Loffredo
  • Factors affecting the Sorption-Desorption of Trace Elements in Soil Environments, by A.Violante, G.S.R. Krishnamurti, and M. Pigna
  • Modeling Adsorption of Trace Metals and Metalloids by Soil Components, S. Goldberg and L. J. Crescenti

B. Transformations and Dynamics of Metals and Metalloids as Influenced by Soil-Root-Microbe Interactions

  • Transformation and Mobilization of Metals by Microorganisms, by G.M. Gadd
  • Biogeochemical Processes Controlling the Cycling of Arsenic in Soils and Sediments, by S. Fendorf, M. Herbell, K. J. Tufano, and B. Kocar
  • Microbial Oxidation and Reduction of Iron in the Rhizosphere and the Impact on Mobility of Heavy Metals, by D. Emerson, S. Neubauer, and P. Megonigal
  • Mobility and Bioavailability of Heavy Metals and Metalloids at the Soil-Root Interface, by F. Hinsinger and F. Courchesne
  • The Complexity of Aqueous Complexation: In the Case of Aluminum- and Iron(III)-Citrate, by M.E. Essington

C. Speciation, Mobility and Bioavailability of Trace Metals and Metalloids in Soil Environments

  • Chemical Speciation and Bioavailability of Metals and Metalloids, by G.S.R. Krishnamurti and R. Naidu
  • Fractionation and Mobility of Trace Elements in Environmental Solids, by P. S. Fedotov and R. Wennrich
  • Source and Mobility of Metallic Radionuclides in Soil Systems, by S. Staunton, C-S. Haudin and G. Shaw
  • Fractionation and Mobility of Trace Elements in Environmental Solids, by P.S. Fedotov
  • Biogeochemistry of Uranium and other Actinides in Contaminated Soils and Sediments, by P.M. Bertsch and B. Jackson
  • Occurrence, Chemical Behaviour and Availability of Heavy Metals in Contaminated Soils, by P. Adamo and A. Violante

D. Chemical and Biological Remediation of Soils Contaminated with Metals and Metalloids

  • Remediation of Metal Contaminated Soils, by R. Naidu
  • Microbial Remediation of Metal and Metalloid Contaminated Soils, by Ludo Diels
  • (Chemical and) Biological Processes that Reduce Arsenic Bioavailability and Toxicity, and N.T. Basta and L.Q. Ma
  • Phosphate-induced Metal Immobilization in Contaminated Soils: Bioavailability and Long-term Stability, by L.Q. Ma and R. Melamed


May 2006 - Dr. P. M. Huang and Prof. Antonio Violante are organizing a Symposium at the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) 18th World Congress to be held in Philadelphia (USA) on July 9-15, 2006. The IUSS Symposium will showcase of the book.

August 2006 - This book will be the 1st volume to be publishd in a new series entitled 'Biophysico-Chemical Processes in Environmental Systems' and to be published by John Wiley & Sons (Hoboken, N.J.). The second volume will be the outcome of IUPAC project # 2006-014-1-600.

Dec 2007 - Project completed - book titled "Biophysico-Chemical Processes of Heavy Metals and Metalloids in Soil Environments" published by John Wiley & Sons, 2007 [ISBN 978-0-471-73778-0].

Last update: 10 December 2007


<project announcement published in Chem. Int. Nov-Dec 2004 >

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