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The sorption of metal ions (Pb2+, Zn2+ and Cu2+) and soil humic acids (HA) from aqueous solutions onto mineral particles (sand, calcite and clay) was investigated using a batch equilibrium system. The sorption reactions in two-component systems (heavy metals-mineral particles and humic acids- mineral particles), as well as interactions in three-component system (heavy metals-humic acids-mineral particles) were examined. Results showed that the presence of humic acids, dissolved or bound onto mineral surfaces, considerably influenced the fixation of heavy metals. The various effects, depending on mineral type, humic concentration and specific metal-ion, were observed in three- component system. Sorption of Cu2+-ions on all minerals studied rapidly increased as the concentration of dissolved HA increased. The amount of Pb2+-ions sorbed on sand slightly decreased, while on kaolin increased between 15 and 20%. Sorption of Zn2+-ions on all minerals studied decreased at pH 4. At pH 5.5 the sorption of Zn2+-ions onto calcite decreased, while on kaolin and sand increased as a function of the humic acid concentration giving the curve with maximum at c(HA) = 2.5 mmol C L−1. At pH 6.5 sorption onto kaolin and sand increased. This effect occurs as a result of the conditional stability constant of Zn-HA complexes increasing at higher pH which in turn promotes the chelation of Zn2+-ions to mineral- bound humic substances. The enhanced sorption of metal ions from the aqueous phase in three-component systems is not only the result of mineral sorption of free metals but also the result of chelation with HA sorbed on the mineral surface.

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