Copper Chelation in Discharged Groundwater via EDTA Addition: a Real World Application

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The Water Effects Ratio allows regulators to modify the water quality criteria of metals based on the knowledge that complexing a metal generally reduces its toxicity. Using this logic, the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority was granted a temporary variance based on bioavailable metal concentration for groundwater discharged into the L.A.-Long Beach Harbor in California. Chelex-labile copper, used as a surrogate for bioavailable copper, was measured using Chelex-100 resin combined with graphite furnace-atomic absorption spectrophotometry (CRC-GFAAS). Ethylendiaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) was added on-site to a concentration of 10–60 mg L −1 in order to reduce the bioavailable fraction to non-detectable levels, however unexpectedly only ∼50% of the available copper was chelated. This partial complexation of the copper was due to high iron concentrations in the industrial mixture of EDTA used for the project, whereas pure EDTA was shown to fully chelate the copper. This technique may hold promise for similar short-term projects.

Keywords: EDTA; bioavailability; chelex; copper

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2006

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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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