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Ferrous Iron Phosphorus in Sediments: Development of a Quantification Method through 2,2′-Bipyridine Extraction

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The role of ferrous iron in the phosphorus cycle of an aquatic ecosystem is poorly understood because of a lack of suitable methods to quantitatively evaluate ferrous iron phosphorus (FIP) phases. Using sediments sampled from Fubao Bay of Dianchi Lake in China, a novel extraction method for FIP using 2,2′-bipyridine was explored. Total phosphorus and iron in the sediments ranged from 1.0 to 5.0 mg/g (dry weight) and 28.5 to 90.6 mg/g, respectively. Organic content (as indicated by loss on ignition or LOI) and iron(II) ranged from 3.1 to 27.0% and 26.5 to 64.9 mg/g, respectively. The dissolution dynamics of FIP extraction with a low solid/liquid ratio (1:25) indicated that a single application of 0.2% 2,2′-bipyridine extracted both iron(II) (Fe(II)) and phosphorus (as PO4 3−) in sediments with different organic contents with low efficiency. The extraction efficiency of Fe(II) was improved by alteration of the solid/liquid ratio, but the effect was limited. However, addition of a 1:1000 solid/liquid ratio of 0.5 M potassium chloride to a 0.2% 2,2′-bipyridine solution significantly accelerated extraction of FIP with the release of Fe(II) and phosphorus toward equilibrium at approximately 150 hours. Further investigation demonstrated that 2,2′-bipyridine exhibited a higher selectivity in distinguishing FIP from phosphorus bound to ferric (Fe(III)) oxides or precipitated by calcium (Ca2+). Air-drying sediments significantly decreased the amount of extracted FIP, which indicates that fresh, wet sediment should be used in this type of FIP extraction. Based on experimental results using the proposed extraction protocol, (1) FIP in sediments of Fubao Bay had a predominant status in the lake sediment and accounted for 23.4 to 39.8% of total phosphorus, and (2) Fe(II)FIP released in the extraction is directly proportional to phosphorusFIP (Fe(II)FIP = 2.84 × PFIP + 0.0007; R 2 = 0.97) with an average molar ratio of Fe(II)FIP/PFIP of 2.7. This study shows that FIP extraction with 2,2′-bipyridine is a robust method for releasing ferrous iron associated with phosphorus. Further, the high percentage of FIP in total phosphorus (40%) measured in the study site using this extraction method suggests that FIP might have been often underestimated in previous studies.

Keywords: 2,2′-bipyridine; ferrous iron; phosphorus; sediment

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2012

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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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