General acid washing is commonly used to treat heavy metal-contaminated soils, but it is sometimes difficult to achieve remediation aims in severely polluted soils. If we expose the surfaces of Fe oxide minerals to reductive dissolution during washing treatment, more of the metals initially adsorbed to these surfaces will be liberated, which may encourage the removal of heavy metals. Initially, the metal extraction capabilities of nine chemical reductants were compared in ten soil samples polluted by Cr, Cu, Zn, and Ni. Sodium dithionite (NaSO) and ferrous sulfate (FeSO) were screened for subsequent intensive research. In summary, the NaSO solutions had higher Cr, Cu, and Zn removal rates than either the FeSO or acid solution. Application of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) further increased the removal of heavy metals by complexation. About 15%, 86%, 32%, and 52% of the Cr, Cu, Zn, and Ni, respectively, were removed from the representative soil (M-2) by two-stage washing using 0.2 M NaSO coupled with 1,500 mg L DOC solution at pH 2.0. Meanwhile, most soil fertility was preserved: ammonium nitrogen was increased 3.9 times; the increase in exchangeable potassium was 33%; and the reduction in available P was only 10%.
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