New ‘chemical bath’ removes heavy metals from soils

A novel chemical bath and electrochemical filter process will be able to effectively extract heavy metals from contaminated soil on-site, scientists claim.

Toxic heavy metals such as lead and cadmium are difficult to remove from soils due to their positive charge, but a research team led by Stanford materials scientist Yi Cui, has invented a way to prise these heavy metals loose using a molecule called Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), which is also used in medicine to clean patients’ blood of heavy metals.

The researchers started by rinsing contaminated soil with a mixture of water and EDTA that attracted the heavy metals due to EDTA’s negatively charged bonds when dissolved in water.

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