Phosphogypsum (PG) is an acid by-product from the production phosphate fertilizers that is produced in large amounts all over the world. However, it is challenging to reuse this waste due to the quantities of various impurities in PG and technical restrictions, resulting in PG accumulation, which threatens adjacent environments. To reduce PG storage and safely utilize PG, the aim of our study was to define the leaching characteristics of the impurities present in PG under different conditions. We found that (1) different leaching experiments showed different leachate profiles (including pH and electrical conductivity values of leachate), which indicated that the liquid/solid (L/S) ratio, temperature, oscillation strength, particle size, and pH have remarkable effects on the concentration of leached impurities; (2) all leachate (i.e. soluble P, fluoride, Zn, Pb, As, and Hg) extraction concentrations were significantly more sensitive to the effect of the L/S ratio and pH than the effect of the other conditions; and (3) the leaching concentration was strongly influenced by pH, and a strong correlation among soluble P, F, As, and Hg concentrations in the leachate was demonstrated by a correlation analysis. In the present study, we revealed a systematic leaching mechanism of potential toxic elements in PG and have provided guidance and a reference for PG resource comprehensive utilization and surrounding environment treatment.

Supplementary material: Chemical compositions of the phosphogypsum and pairwise Wilcoxon test results are available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.5088187

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