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Issue 6, 2003
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Aluminium speciation in effluents and receiving waters

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The respective speciation of aluminium in sewage effluent and in river water receiving effluent, has been examined. Results showed that concentrations of reactive aluminium changed over a timescale of hours and were controlled predominantly by pH. A minimum concentration of reactive aluminium occurred at a pH of approximately 6.8, coinciding with the prevalence of non-reactive, insoluble Al(OH)3 species. For receiving waters of low pH value, typically <pH 5, a large proportion of the ‘naturally present’ aluminium can be present in a reactive form at concentrations higher than the proposed Environmental Quality Standard (EQS). Mixing of waters of this type with effluent of a higher pH value leads to the precipitation of aluminium hydroxide. Mixing of effluent of pH value in the range 7.5–8.0 with river water in the same (or slightly higher) pH range appears to result in no appreciable change in the proportion of reactive aluminium; the change in concentration tends to be related simply to dilution. On the basis of a theoretical knowledge of aluminium speciation, results obtained in this work indicate that it is possible to make predictions about the proportion of reactive aluminium present in a receiving water, based on the pH values of the effluent water mixture and the concentration in the effluent. Reasonable comparisons between measured and predicted values were obtained at higher pH values, but the relationship was less certain at pH values less than 6.5 for which levels of reactive metal tended to be higher than the quality standard value.

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Article information

21 Jul 2003
22 Oct 2003
First published
06 Nov 2003

J. Environ. Monit., 2003,5, 902-905
Article type

Aluminium speciation in effluents and receiving waters

M. J. Gardner and S. D. W. Comber, J. Environ. Monit., 2003, 5, 902
DOI: 10.1039/B308409D

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