Availability of metals and radionuclides present in phosphogypsum and phosphate fertilizers used in Brazil

Saueia, Cátia; Bourlegat, Fernanda; Mazzilli, Barbara; Fávaro, Deborah
August 2013
Journal of Radioanalytical & Nuclear Chemistry;Aug2013, Vol. 297 Issue 2, p189
Academic Journal
Phosphogypsum (PG) is a by-product of the phosphate fertilizer industry. In Brazil, three main phosphate industries are responsible for the production of 5.5 × 10 metric tons of PG per year, which is stored in stacks. Part of this by-product can be reused to improve fertility of agricultural soils. For its safe application, it is necessary to characterize the impurities (metals and radionuclides) present in PG and to evaluate their availability to the environment. The main objectives of this paper are: to determine the total concentration of radionuclides (Ra, Ra and Pb) and metals (As, Cd, Cr, Co, Cu, Hg, Ni, Pb, Se, Zn) in the Brazilian PG samples using different methodologies, to evaluate the available fraction of these elements in the PG samples using a methodology with mild leaching with EDTA, to compare the results obtained for PG samples with those obtained for the most used phosphate fertilizers. The total concentration obtained for the metals using methodologies with different initial digestion (strong attack with acids and HF and mild attack with nitric acid) are slightly different. The results obtained using the methodology with mild leaching showed that the metals and radionuclides are not available to the environment, giving evidence that the application of PG in agriculture is safe as far as contamination by such elements. PG presented metals concentration lower than the phosphate fertilizers. The results obtained for the PG samples, for As, Cd, Cr, Hg, Ni, Pb and Se, are below the limits established by the Brazilian Regulatory Agency.


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