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Probing the effects of different lead compounds on the bioavailability of lead to plants

De Silva, Shamali, Bernett, Chloe, Meaklim, Jean, Abeywardane, Erandika, Reichman, Suzie M.
Chemosphere 2019 v.230 pp. 24-28
bioavailability, grasses, lead, lettuce, pollutants, risk, shoots, soil, solubility, toxicity
Lead (Pb) is an important pollutant and is released into the environment in many forms. Different lead compounds have a variety of solubilities and so may impact on lead bioavailability and toxicity when added to soil. In this experimental study, we investigated the bioavailability of Pb in soil spiked with 300, 900 and 1500 mg/kg of Pb-acetate, PbCl2 and PbO using lettuce and wallaby grass. The concentration of Pb in the shoots of both species from control soils (2–3 mg/kg) was similar to previously reported concentrations in plants grown on uncontaminated soils. The Pb concentrations in the plant shoots increased with Pb concentrations in soil for lettuce (R2 = 0.526, P < 0.001) and wallaby grass (R2 = 0.776, P < 0.001). This study demonstrated that Pb bioavailability in soil was not affected by the type of Pb compound added to the soil for both plant species up to 1500 mg/kg Pb concentrations. Instead, the Pb concentration in the plant was best predicted by the total concentration of lead in the soil, irrespective of the original lead compound added to the soil. This research suggests that the original Pb compounds that contaminated the soil are unlikely to be an important factor in assessing Pb bioavailability, and hence risk, in soils.