Environmental impact of ongoing sources of metal contamination on remediated sediments

Anna Sophia Knox, Michael H. Paller, Charles E. Milliken, Todd M. Redder, John R. Wolfe, John Seaman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


A challenge to all remedial approaches for contaminated sediments is the continued influx of contaminants from uncontrolled sources following remediation. We investigated the effects of ongoing contamination in mesocosms employing sediments remediated by different types of active and passive caps and in-situ treatment. Our hypothesis was that the sequestering agents used in active caps and in situ treatment will bind elements (arsenic, chromium, cadmium, cobalt, copper, nickel, lead, selenium, and zinc) from ongoing sources thereby reducing their bioavailability and protecting underlying remediated sediments from recontamination. Most element concentrations in surface water remained significantly lower in mesocosms with apatite and mixed amendment caps than in mesocosms with passive caps (sand), uncapped sediment, and spike solution throughout the 2520 h experiment. Element concentrations were significantly higher in Lumbriculus variegatus from untreated sediment than in Lumbriculus from most active caps. Pearson correlations between element concentrations in Lumbriculus and metal concentrations in the top 2.5 cm of sediment or cap measured by diffusive gradient in thin films (DGT) sediment probes were generally strong (as high as 0.98) and significant (p < 0.05) for almost all tested elements. Metal concentrations in both Lumbriculus and sediment/cap were lowest in apatite, mixed amendment, and activated carbon treatments. These findings show that some active caps can protect remediated sediments by reducing the bioavailable pool of metals/metalloids in ongoing sources of contamination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)108-117
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Active caps
  • Bioavailability
  • Metals
  • Passive caps
  • Re-contamination
  • Remediated sediment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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