Impact of Soil Physical, Chemical, and Biological Interactions on the Transformation of Metals and Metalloids

Authored by: Antonio Violante , M. Pigna , V. Cozzolino , Pan Ming Huang (Deceased)

Handbook of Soil Sciences Resource Management and Environmental Impacts

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  November  2011

Print ISBN: 9781439803073
eBook ISBN: 9781439803080
Adobe ISBN:


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Trace elements may be present in solution with positive or negative charges and in different redox states. They occur predominantly in cationic form (Pb, Cu, Zn, Ni, Cd, Hg, Cr(III), Co), but some are present in anionic form (As, Se, Cr(VI), Mo, and B). Heavy metals and metalloids have critically important biological effects, both beneficial and harmful. In trace amounts, many of these elements (e.g., Cu, Zn, Co) are essential to living organisms, but they become poisonous when their concentrations in the environment and in organisms are sufficiently high. Some elements (e.g., Hg and Pb) are not known to perform any essential biochemical functions and then are injurious or lethal to living organisms even at very low ambient concentrations (Jackson, 1998). Due to industrial development and disposal activity, trace elements are considered to be among the most important environmental contaminants that affect all ecosystem components in natural environments. Concerns about these contaminants are justified in view of the evidence that trace elements are continually accumulating in the food chain (Iskandar and Kikham, 2001).

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