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Dispersion and solubility of In, Tl, Ta and Nb in the aquatic environment and intertidal sediments of the Scheldt estuary (Flanders, Belgium)
Folens, K.; Du Laing, G. (2017). Dispersion and solubility of In, Tl, Ta and Nb in the aquatic environment and intertidal sediments of the Scheldt estuary (Flanders, Belgium). Chemosphere 183: 401-409. https://hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2017.05.076
In: Chemosphere. Elsevier: Oxford. ISSN 0045-6535, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Author keywords
    Indium Thallium Tantalum Niobium Metal dispersion Anthropogenic enrichment

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Abstract
    Certain specialty elements are indispensable in modern technologies for their particular properties. Yet, potential risks associated to the release of these elements at any stage, remains unknown. Therefore, the dispersion of indium (In), thallium (Tl), tantalum (Ta) and niobium (Nb) in the aquatic environment of the Scheldt estuary (Flanders, Belgium) was studied. Maximum concentrations in intertidal sediments of 101 ± 15 μg kg−1 for In, 481 ± 37 μg kg−1 for Tl, 88 ± 19 μg kg−1 for Ta and 1162 ± 4 μg kg−1 for Nb appeared on the sampling location closest to the river mouth, i.e. 57.5 km upstream. Their distribution in the intertidal sediments depends on the physicochemical sediment characteristics along the flow of the river Scheldt. The same was the case for most other metals and aluminum as their occurrence also correlated (p < 0.05) with the occurrence of In, Tl and Nb. While in general, studied elements correlate to the OM content and sulfur and phosphorus herein included, a relative enrichment of In, Tl and Nb was seen at Rupelmonde (92.0 km from the river mouth). Mainly the intertidal sediment silt fraction is capable of retaining the elements by exchanging with other ions in the mineral interlayer. Increasing salinity towards the river mouth can furthermore induce the formation of insoluble chloride species. Overall, the solubility of In, Tl, Ta and Nb appeared extremely low upon extraction of pore water from intertidal sediments saturated to 100% field capacity.

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