Mechanistic insights into the (im)mobilization of arsenic, cadmium, lead, and zinc in a multi-contaminated soil treated with different biochars

Ali El-Naggar, Scott X. Chang, Yanjiang Cai, Young Han Lee, Jianxu Wang, Shan Li Wang, Changkook Ryu, Jörg Rinklebe, Yong Sik Ok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


The effect and mechanistic evidence of biochar on the (im)mobilization of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) in multi-contaminated soils, with respect to the role of surface-functional groups and organic/inorganic compounds of biochar, are poorly understood. Herein, biochars produced from grass residues, rice straw, and wood were applied to a mining-soil contaminated with As, Cd, Pb, and Zn for 473-d. Biochars did not reduce the mobilization of Cd and Zn, whereas they simultaneously exhibited disparate effects on As and Pb mobilization. The phenolic hydroxyl and carboxylic groups on the wood biochar's surfaces promoted the conversion of Pb2+ into PbCO3/Pb(OH)2 and/or PbO, minimally by the rice and grass biochars. Rice and grass biochars led to the dissolution of scorodite and the formation of less stable forms of Fe-oxide-bound As (i.e., goethite and ferrihydrite); furthermore, it resulted in the reduction of As(V) to As(III). The PTEs mobilization and phytoavailability was mainly governed by the release of dissolved aliphatic- and aromatic-carbon, chloride, sulfur chemistry, phosphate competition, and the electrostatic repulsion in biochar-treated soils. In conclusion, pristine-biochar has a limited impact on the remediation of multi-contaminated soils, and the use of modified-biochar, possessing higher surface areas and functionality and active exchange sites, are preferred under such conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106638
JournalEnvironment International
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Nov


  • Biochar feedstock
  • Charcoal
  • Food safety
  • Soil contamination
  • Soil remediation
  • Sustainable remediation
  • XPS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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