Journal article

An anomalous metal-rich phosphogypsum: Characterization and classification according to international regulations

Phosphogypsum is the main waste generated by the phosphate fertilizer industry. Despite the high level of pollutants found in phosphogypsum and the proximity of stacks to cities, there are no specific regulations for the management of this waste. This study addresses this issue by applying to phosphogypsum, from a fertilizer plant in Huelva (SW Spain), the leaching tests proposed by the current European and US environmental regulations for wastes management and classification. Two main conclusions were obtained: 1) the anomalous metal and metalloid concentrations (e.g. As, Fe, Pb, Sb, Mn, V and Cu) and higher mobility observed in the Huelva phosphogypsum compared to other stacks worldwide, and 2) the discrepancies observed between EU and US regulations dealing with hazardousness classification of these materials. This latter finding suggests the need to use complementary assessment protocols to obtain a better characterization and classification of these wastes. An evaluation of the potential risk to the aquatic life according to the US EPA regulation is proposed in this study. The results warn about the acute and chronic effects on the aquatic life of this waste and suggest the adoption of more strict measures for a safe disposal of phosphogypsum stacks. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


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