Competition of Cd, Cu, and Pb adsorption on goethite

Chris A. Christophi, Lisa Axe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations


Competition of copper, lead, and cadmium adsorption on goethite was studied and found to be dependent on metal ion and oxide surface characteristics. In adsorption edges, ionic strength effects suggested copper, lead, and cadmium are specifically adsorbed on goethite. Metal capacity on the goethite surface was found to increase with metal electronegativity: Cu > Pb > Cd. On the other hand, the equilibrium constant for lead was greater than that of copper, which is in agreement with their hydrated radii (Pb < Cu < Cd). Modeling revealed that the single-site Langmuir isotherm described the Cu-Cd and Pb-Cd adsorption and competition results within the error of the model. Furthermore, although the model provided a good fit for Pb and Cd data in the Pb-Cu and Pb-Cu-Cd systems, it underpredicted copper adsorption. The difference in site densities between copper and lead revealed a set of sites not available for competition. Using this approach where copper affinity is equivalent for both sites, the model provided a good fit for copper adsorption and competition. This study confirms that adsorption competition plays a crucial role in contaminant mobility in the environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-74
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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