The reactivity of primary Pb metallurgical slags in high-molecular-weight (HMW) organic solutions has been studied in order to determine the processes of release and attenuation of metal and metalloid contaminants (Pb, Zn, Cu, As) in ‘soil-like’ environments. Slag was submitted to a 112-day batch leaching experiment in Suwannee River fulvic acid solution and peat water (~50 mg DOC l−1). The leaching was coupled with investigation of the secondary phases (SEM/EDS, Raman microspectrometry) and thermodynamic speciation-solubility modelling using MINTEQA2. Metals and As are released in large amounts during the early stage of the experiment, followed by a decrease in the concentrations in the leachate as a result of adsorption on secondary (hydrous) ferric oxides (HFO/FO), predicted by MINTEQA2 calculations and confirmed on the leached slag surface by SEM and Raman spectrometry. Compared to other contaminants, Zn exhibits more pronounced mobility and is adsorbed on HFO/FO only at pH >7. Such a scavenging process may be predominant during the long-term interaction of slag with an HMW organic solution of real soil. As a result, the soil cover and subsequent re-vegetation of slag dumps may be considered as a possible scenario for slag management.

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