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.