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Mineralogical and Physicochemical Methods To Differentiate Between Natural and Anthropogenic Sources of Chromium in Soils

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This study evaluates pollution from a former tannery by examining soils containing high concentrations of chromium (between 138 and 720 mg/kg dry matter according to the sample). This study presents an original methodology for characterizing chromium according to its two possible origins in soils: natural or anthropogenic. Conducting both a mineralogical study and a physicochemical study made it possible to clearly understand these origins. Natural chromium is particularly linked to pyroxenes, a primary mineral of the Massif Central, France, and found in large quantities in the samples studied. Anthropogenic chromium is adsorbed by vermiculites on their interfoliary sites. These clays possess a high capacity of cationic exchange and can thus attract chromium easily. In all of the samples studied, the naturally chromiferous mineral contribution was high (97 to 519 mg/kg dry matter), whereas that of the clays was low (41 to 201 mg/kg dry matter), indicating a smaller proportion of chromium introduced by humans. Natural chromium values are approximately 70 to 80%, whereas those for anthropogenic chromium are approximately 20 to 30%. This approach makes it possible to set realistic objectives for the cleanup of chromium-contaminated soils.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: September 1, 2000

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  • Water Environment Research® (WER®) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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