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Boschi & Willenbring, 2016


The role of pH, organic matter composition and mineralogy on the sorption behavior of beryllium.

Boschi, V., Willenbring, J.K. (2016)
Environmental Chemistry  


Understanding the chemical controls on beryllium sorption is fundamental when assessing its mobility as a pollutant and interpreting its concentration as a geochemical tracer of erosion, weathering and landscape surface stability. In order to evaluate the interactions of beryllium with soil- and aquatic-related materials, we selected model organic compounds and minerals to perform sorption experiments. The retention of beryllium by each of these compounds and minerals was evaluated over a pH range of 3–6 and at various equilibration times to determine which conditions allowed the greatest retention of beryllium. We conclude that most beryllium sorption occurred within 24 h for both organic and mineral materials. However, equilibration required longer periods of time and was dependent on the solution pH and sorbent material. The pH exhibited a strong control on beryllium sorption with distribution coefficient (Kd) values increasing non-linearly with increasing pH. A system with a pH of 6 is likely to retain 79–2270 % more beryllium than the same system at a pH of 4. Phosphonate retained the greatest amount of beryllium, with Kd values 2–30× greater than all other materials tested at a pH of 6. Therefore, soils containing larger amounts of phosphorus-bearing minerals could result in greater retention of beryllium relative to phosphorus-limited soils. Overall, soil composition, with an emphasis on phosphorus oxide content and pH, is an important property to consider when evaluating the capacity of a system to retain beryllium.


Boschi, V., Willenbring, J.K. (2016): The role of pH, organic matter composition and mineralogy on the sorption behavior of beryllium . Environmental Chemistry . DOI: 10.1071/EN15107

This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.