Research Activities: 2011

Use of Adsorption Mechanism to Decrease Heavy Metal Mobility in Soil

 Status Complete                      View Final Report: PDF
Sequential Number R304
Identification Number 00039454
Matching Research Agency Missouri University of Science & Technology, Civil Engineering
Principal Investigator Jianming Wang
Associate Professor, Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering
Missouri University of Science and Technology
325 Computer Science Bldg.
Rolla, MO 65401
(573) 341-7503
Student Involvement

1 Graduate Research Assistant


Project Objective

During the period of scholarship support, I will use current resources to actively pursue my career by:  (a) Deepening my principle understanding of environmental contaminant transport and exposure to human health in areas related to my research; (b) Developing working knowledge into applications advantageous to both future research and the roles of environmental engineering related to food quality; and (c) Providing viable alternative agricultural practices that necessitate protection of human health and yield a greater access to good, wholesome, more locally sourced food.


Project Abstract

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been involved in the recent food safety and beverage discussion about elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in foods such as apple juice, honey and rice.  Some forms of arsenic have been determined a human carcinogen by the U.S. EPA, making it imperative that food quality and the associated threat to human health be studied further.  Some highway construction materials such coal fly ash could be a source of these toxic elements.  The environmental engineering approach to this topic is not limited to, but focuses on heavy metal (i.e. arsenic, selenium) mobility and transport in the environment, exposure and corresponding human health impacts.  Missouri S&T is part of a small number of engineering institutions that are currently researching these topics.  If current research trends indicate impending roles of environmental engineering, one forthcoming role will be food quality assurance.  The assurance methods explored in this research includes the modification of soil chemistry and competitive adsorption states.  This chemistry is based on testing the ability adsorption material (i.e. iron oxide) to fixate arsenic and other heavy metals to effectively decrease mobility and transport into the environment.  This application will be tested under varying adsorbent applications to optimize adsorbent added per decreased heavy metal mobility and improve the role of environmental engineering in food quality assurance.


This research is related to the NUTC Theme #1: Advanced materials. Fly ash and other recycled construction materials could be used as novel construction materials for highway, to reduce cost, improve structure stability, and reduce carbon emission. However, heavy metals could be leached from these materials. Ultimately these heavy metals will be accumulated by crops and impact human health. While this proposed research does not directly address the strength of the construction material, it does evaluate the resulted environmental and health impact related to the application of these materials, which is part of the NUTC theme #1.


Relationship to other Research/Projects

Topics included in this research are related to topics researched by the PI and others, including:  (a) Decreasing heavy metal uptake of domestic rice plants; (b) Plant specific uptake of nickel and cadmium; and (c) Selenium and arsenic adsorption onto fly ash.


Transportation-Related Keywords

Heavy metals, fly ash, fate and transport

Technology Transfer Activities

A PowerPoint documentation of Project Deliverables will be submitted to CIES/NUTC.


Project Deliverables

Final report will be submitted to CIES/NUTC combining at least one journal article written and applied to reputable environmental science and technology journals.

Anticipated Benefits

Outside of the project objectives, this research will deliver benefits in areas such as:  (a) Heavy metal fixation in soil and elaborate evaluation of related applications (i.e. fly ash); (b) Direct and viable alternative agricultural practices that provide a lesser heavy metal mobility into the environment and exposure to human health.


Project Start Date: 08/20/2012
Project End Date: