Trace metal bioaccumulation and plant growth on dredged river sediments and biosolids mixtures

Dorivar A. Ruiz Diaz, Robert G. Darmody, John C. Marlin, German A. Bollero, F. William Simmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dredged river sediments and biosolids used as amendments for agricultural purposes can provide a suitable plant growth medium, a topsoil substitute. Nevertheless, trace metal bioaccumulation and risk of plant toxicity remains a concern. We conducted a greenhouse experiment to evaluate the plant growth and trace metal bioaccumulation on sediments and biosolid mixtures. These included dredged sediment from the Peoria Lakes portion of the Illinois River and class A biosolids from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Six different mixtures were produced in addition to a standard greenhouse mix serving as a control. Barley (Hordeum vulgare) and snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) were grown on the mixtures in the greenhouse. Plants grew in all treatments, except for snap beans that were stunted likely by high salt content in unleached biosolid mixtures. The highest overall biomass production for barley was obtained in the treatment composed of 50% sediment and 50% biosolids. For snap bean, the highest biomass productions were obtained in treatments composed of 50% biosolids in the mixture. Trace metals in plant tissue were within ranges considered normal, except for Mo in snap bean, which was at a level considered excessive. However, addition of biosolids to sediments decreased Mo plant uptake. Based on our results, sediments mixed with biosolids make a fertile topsoil and have no inherent chemical or physical properties that would preclude its use as a plant growth medium. Adding sediments to unleached fresh biosolids improved plant growth and diminished trace metal uptake. The suggested optimal ratio of sediments to biosolids would be 80:20 to 70:30 by volume in most situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-333
Number of pages13
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Biosolids
  • Dredged river sediment
  • Trace metal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Pollution


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