A protocol to evaluate the adsorptive removal of dissolved copper and zinc from highway runoff

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Date

2014-05

Authors

Ernst, Clayton Owen

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Abstract

The increasing urbanization of landscapes significantly alters the surface water hydrology of impacted watersheds. As a side effect, stormwater discharges to receiving water bodies are often of decreased quality due to pollutants deposited on impervious urban surfaces being entrained by runoff. A pertinent example of this problem is the presence of copper and zinc in highway runoff. Both copper and zinc have been shown to exert toxic effects on aquatic micro- and macro-biota. Copper in particular has been shown to harmfully disrupt the olfactory nervous system of fish species at concentrations as low as 3 [mu]g/L. To meet these limits, treatment of highway runoff for the removal of copper and zinc is necessary. However, due to the complexities associated with the behavior of heavy metals in natural systems, the appropriateness of removal techniques will necessarily depend on a variety of system-specific factors and chemical characteristics of highway runoff. Adsorption has been shown to be generally effective in the removal of dissolved heavy metals, but the choice of adsorptive media is again dependent on system-specific parameters. This study developed and evaluated a column testing protocol that can be used to quickly and reliably evaluate adsorptive removal of dissolved heavy metals from highway runoff. The protocol is demonstrated in an evaluation of iron oxide, manganese oxide, crab shell, concrete, and bone meal media for removing dissolved copper and zinc from highway runoff. The performance of these media was assessed as a function of various runoff characteristics including pH, ionic strength, alkalinity, and total organic carbon. The methodology was used to show that iron oxide media in combination with crab shell or concrete media provided the most effective removal of copper and zinc from highway runoff. Through this study, the convenience, flexibility, and robustness of the proposed protocol are compellingly established.

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