General purpose Freundlich isotherms for cadmium, copper and zinc in soils

E. J. Elzinga, J. J.M. Van Grinsven, F. A. Swartjes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


Assessing the accumulation and transport of trace metals in soils and the associated toxicological risks on a national scale requires generally applicable sorption equations. Therefore Freundlich equations were derived for Cd, Zn and Cu using multiple linear regression on batch sorption data from the literature with a wide variety of soil and experimental characteristics, and metal concentrations ranging over five orders of magnitude. Equations were derived based on both total dissolved metal concentrations and free metal activities in solution. Free metal activities were calculated from total metal concentrations taking into account ionic activity, and inorganic (all metals) and organic complexation (Cu only). Cadmium and Zn were present in solution predominantly as free ions, while Cu was present as organic complexes. Since actual dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations were not available they were estimated using an empirical field relation between DOC and organic matter content. The logarithmic transformation of the Freundlich constant for Cd was regressed on the logarithmic transformations of cation exchange capacity (CEC) (H+) and dissolved Ca, and for Zn with CEC and (H+). For Cu the log-log regression model of the Freundlich constant included the solid:solution ratio of the batch to account for dilution of DOC in the batch as compared with the field. The explained variance for the fitted Freundlich equations was 79% for Cd, 65% for Cu and 83% for Zn, using log-transformed adsorbed concentrations and soil solution activities. The Freundlich adsorption models underestimated metal contents determined from 1 M HNO3 digestion on field samples, up to a factor of 6 (Cd and Cu) or 10 (Zn).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-149
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Soil Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Soil Science

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'General purpose Freundlich isotherms for cadmium, copper and zinc in soils'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this