Blast furnace (BF) slags are commonly applied as soil amendments and in road fill material. In Sweden they are also naturally high in vanadium. The aim of this study was to assess the vanadium bioavailability in BF slags when applied to soil. Two soils were amended with up to 29% BF slag (containing 800 mg V kg(-1)) and equilibrated outdoors for 10 months before conducting a barley shoot growth assay. Additional soil samples were spiked with dissolved vanadate(V) for which assays were conducted two weeks (freshly spiked) and 10 months (aged) after spiking. The BF slag vanadium was dominated by vanadium(III) as shown by V K-edge XANES spectroscopy. In contrast, results obtained by HPLC-ICP-MS showed that vanadium(V), the most toxic vanadium species, was predominant in the soil solution. Barley shoot growth was not affected by the BF slag additions. This was likely due to limited dissolution of vanadium from the BF slag, preventing an increase of dissolved vanadium above toxic thresholds. The difference in vanadium bioavailability among treatments was explained by the vanadium concentration in the soil solution. It was concluded that the vanadium in BF slag is sparingly available. These findings should be of importance in environmental risk assessment.
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