Removal of Toxic Metals from Sewage Sludge Through Chemical, Physical, and Biological Treatments—a Review

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Camargo, Franciele Pereira
Sérgio Tonello, Paulo [UNESP]
dos Santos, André Cordeiro Alves
Duarte, Iolanda Cristina Silveira

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The implantation of wastewater treatment systems aims to minimize environmental impacts, but ultimately generates waste materials, such as sewage sludge, which must be properly discarded. Final disposal in landfills, and incineration are the most commonly used disposal methods, but both constitute a threat to the soil, water, air, and food chain. The most suitable alternative for the disposal of sewage sludge is its use as fertilizer, due to the nutrients in its composition, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and organic carbon. However, the presence of potentially toxic metals is the main factor that limits such use. Many techniques have been employed in attempt to remove these toxic metals, including physical, chemical, and biological treatments, but the high cost of the physical and chemical treatments, as well as the risk of causing secondary pollution, makes this type of sewage sludge treatment an unsatisfactory option. Therefore, removing toxic metals through biological treatments has become an increasingly popular choice, as such treatments have been shown to be the most economically and environmentally beneficial methods. The aim of the present study was to provide a review of some of the most common alternative treatments for the incineration and disposal of sludge in landfills, emphasizing the physical, chemical, and biological processes that enable the removal of potentially toxic metals, for the purpose of obtaining a final product which can be used as fertilizers in farm soils.



Bioleaching, Heavy metals, Metal solubilization, Wastewater treatment

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Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, v. 227, n. 12, 2016.