To date, most studies about the aging of metals in soil were based on the controlled laboratory experiments, and few works have attempted to investigate how aging process influences the distribution and bioavailability of metals in soil under the field condition. The purpose of this study was to compare the aging of cadmium (Cd) in soils under the controlled laboratory and the field by monitoring time-dependent soil Cd speciation changes, Cd release kinetics, and Cd bioavailability to plant through the 438-day aging experiments. During the aging process, the proportions of Cd associated with the most weakly bound fraction tended to decrease, with corresponding increases in the more stable binding fractions. After aging, a higher concentration of available Cd was found in the field aging soil (0.74 mg kg) than the laboratory aging soil (0.65 mg kg). The Elovich equation was the best model to describe the soil available Cd aging process. The constant b in the Elovich equation, which was defined as the transformation rate, was in the order of laboratory aging soil > field aging soil. Moreover, higher Cd release amounts were found for the field aging soil (2.74 mg kg) than the laboratory aging soil (2.57 mg kg) at the end of aging. Additionally, higher body Cd concentrations were found for the vegetables grown in the field aging soils (1.49 mg kg, fresh weight) than those grown in the laboratory aging soils (1.32 mg kg, fresh weight). Therefore, this study indicated that the metal distribution process and its bioavailability may be overestimated or underestimated if research data from the laboratory experiments are used to derive soil quality criteria or investigate soil metal bioavailability.
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