Potentially toxic elements in solid waste streams: Fate and management approaches

X. Xiong, Xueming Liu, Iris K.M. Yu, Lei Wang, Jin Zhou, Xin Sun, Jörg Rinklebe, Sabry M. Shaheen, Yong Sik Ok, Z. Lin, Daniel C.W. Tsang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Solid wastes containing potentially toxic elements (PTEs) are widely generated around the globe. Critical concerns have been raised over their impacts on human health and the environment, especially for the exposure to PTEs during the transfer and disposal of the wastes. It is important to devise highly-efficient and cost-effective treatment technologies for the removal or immobilisation of PTEs in solid wastes. However, there is an inadequate overview of the global flow of PTEs-contaminated solid wastes in terms of geographical distribution patterns, which is vital information for decision making in sustainable waste management. Moreover, in view of the scarcity of resources and the call for a circular economy, there is a pressing need to recover materials (e.g., precious metals and rare earth elements) from waste streams and this is a more sustainable and environmentally friendly practice compared with ore mining. Therefore, this article aims to give a thorough overview to the global flow of PTEs and the recovery of waste materials. This review first summarises PTEs content in various types of solid wastes; then, toxic metal(loid)s, radioactive elements, and rare earth elements are critically reviewed, with respect to their patterns of transport transformation and risks in the changing environment. Different treatments for the management of these contaminated solid wastes are discussed. Based on an improved understanding of the dynamics of metal(loid) fates and a review of existing management options, new scientific insights are provided for future research in the development of high-performance and sustainable treatment technologies for PTEs in solid wastes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)680-707
Number of pages28
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Oct

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Environmental and human health risk
  • Green and sustainable remediation
  • Metals/metalloids
  • Radioactive elements
  • Rare earth elements
  • Sustainable waste management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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