Metal mobility and toxicity of reclaimed copper smelting fly ash and smelting slag†
Copper is a nonferrous metal closely connected to humans. Approximately 40% of copper is produced by reclaimed copper smelting (RCS). Reclaimed copper smelting fly ash and smelting slag are generated during the RCS process, posing a serious threat to the ecosystem and environment as they contain many heavy metals, such as Cu and Zn. In this study, the metal mobility and toxicity of RCS fly ash and smelting slag were analyzed using standard leaching toxicity procedures, sequential extraction procedures, and bioavailability tests. The results showed that the main phases of RCS fly ash were Cu2(OH)3Cl, FeCl2·2H2O, CuS2, C, CuO, Cu, Ca2SiO4, ZnClO42, Zn(OH)2·0.5H2O, and KFeCl3, and those for smelting slag were SiO2, CaCO3, SiS2, CaAl2Si2O8·4H2O, Cu4O3, CuO, ZnO, NiSO4·6H2O, AlPO4, and Na3Mn(PO4)(CO)3. These two slags contain high contents of Cu, Zn and Fe and trace amounts of heavy metals, such as Ba, Be, Cd, Cr, Ni, As, Pb, Au, Se and Sb. RCS fly ash is classified as hazardous waste in both China and the USA as the toxic leaching concentrations of Pb and Cd exceed the thresholds of 5 and 1 mg L−1. Cu and Zn contained in these two slags can easily be released into the environment, although the residual fraction of Cu and Zn was found to be higher than 65%. Additionally, RCS fly ash and smelting slag also show significant biohazardous potential as the EDTA- and DTPA-extractable Zn, Cu and Se of these two residues are considerably high. The results described above could provide reclaimed copper smelting companies and governments with a better understanding of the risk of RCS fly ash and smelting slag, urging them to stop the slag from harming ecosystems and humans.