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Buffering of alkaline steel slag leachate across a natural wetland

Mayes, William M.; Younger, Paul L.; Aumônier, Jonathan


Paul L. Younger

Jonathan Aumônier


Buffering of high-pH ( > 12) steel slag leachate is documented across a small, natural calcareous wetland. The alkaline leachate is supersaturated with respect to calcite upstream of the wetland (SI calcite values +2.3) and becomes less saturated with progress across the wetland, to SI calcite values of +0.27 at the wetland outlet. Reduction in pH across the wetland (to around pH 8 at the wetland outlet) was observed to be more pronounced over summer months, possibly due to increased microbial activity, possibly further assisted by greater flow baffling by emergent vegetation. Calculated calcite precipitation rates downstream of the leachate source, estimated from hydrochemical data, flow, and surface area, were on the order of 0.4-15 g m -2 day -1 , while direct measurements (using immersed limestone blocks) showed calcite precipitation values in the range 3-10 g m -2 day -1 . Precipitation rate was highest in the pH range where the carbonate ion is a dominant constituent of sample alkalinity (pH 9.5-11) and at the locations where wetland biota became established downstream of the leachate emergence. These data provide valuable insights into the potential for using constructed wetlands for the passive treatment of high pH steel slag leachates. © 2006 American Chemical Society.


Mayes, W. M., Younger, P. L., & Aumônier, J. (2006). Buffering of alkaline steel slag leachate across a natural wetland. Environmental Science and Technology, 40(4), 1237-1243.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 8, 2005
Online Publication Date Jan 18, 2006
Publication Date Feb 1, 2006
Print ISSN 0013-936X
Electronic ISSN 1520-5851
Publisher American Chemical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 40
Issue 4
Pages 1237-1243
Keywords Water-quality; Fly-ash; Pennsylvania; Combustion residues
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