Heavy metals and its chemical speciation in sewage sludge at different stages of processing

  • Malwina Tytła, Kamila Widziewicz, Ewa Zielewicz
  • Environmental Technology, October 2015, Taylor & Francis
  • DOI: 10.1080/09593330.2015.1090482

Heavy metals and its chemical speciation in sewage sludge at different stages of processing

What is it about?

This study was aimed at determining the total concentration of selected heavy metals (Zn, Cu, Ni, Pb, Cd, Cr and Hg) and their chemical forms (except for Hg) in sludge collected at different stages of its processing at two municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants in southern Poland. Metals contents in sludge samples were determined by using flame atomic absorption spectrometry (FAAS) and electrothermal atomic absorption spectrometry (ETAAS).

Why is it important?

The analysis of heavy metal concentrations and forms in sewage sludge constitutes an important issue in terms of both health and environmental hazards the metals pose. The total heavy metals concentration enables only the assessment of its contamination. Hence the knowledge of chemical forms is required to determine their environmental mobility and sludge final disposal. Heavy metals speciation was studied by using four-stage sequential extraction BCR (Community Bureau of Reference).


Malwina Tytła

This study shows that Zn and Cu appeared to be the most abundant in sludge, while Cd and Hg were in the lowest concentrations. The sewage sludge revealed the domination of immobile fractions over the mobile ones. The oxidizable and residual forms were dominant for all the heavy metals. There was also a significant difference in metals speciation between sludges of different origin which was probably due to differences in wastewater composition and processes occurring in biological stage of wastewater treatment. The results indicate a negligible capability of metals to migrate from sludge into the environment. Our research revealed a significant impact of thickening, stabilization and hygienization on the distribution of heavy metals in sludge and their mobility.

Read Publication


The following have contributed to this page: Malwina Tytła