Lead and Zinc Removal by Laboratory Scale Constructed Wetlands


Constructed wetlands have the potential to trap and remove metals in mine wastewater. to determine the effectiveness of constructed wetlands for treating selected heavy metals in neutral mine effluent typical of lead mines, eight laboratory-scale constructed wetlands were set up to treat a synthetic, slightly alkaline, mine water containing 34.2 mg/L sulfate (SO4(2-)), 50 micrograms/L lead (Pb), and 300 micrograms/L zinc (Zn). after 45 days, one of the wetlands was switched to treat a synthetic smelter effluent with a much greater load of SO4(2-), sodium (Na+), and Pb. Temperature, hydraulic loading, and substrate composition typically did not affect treatment efficiency. the pH of the effluent was reduced from 8.0 to 8.5 to near neutral. the average removal in the eight wetlands was 90% for Pb and 72% for Zn. in wetlands operating on synthetic mine water, SO4(2-) was completely removed, likely by conversion to sulfide by sulfate-reducing bacteria. in the wetland operating on synthetic smelter effluent, only approximately 25% of 6 g/L influent sulfate was removed, and a breakthrough period of 4 days for Na+ was observed. Whole effluent toxicity assays on undiluted wetland effluent from wetlands treating mine and smelter water had 100% survival of fathead minnows and Daphnia magnia. Survival of Ceriodaphnia dubia was zero in undiluted effluent, but 75 to 100% survival was observed when the effluent was diluted to one-half strength.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Ecosystem; Fluid Methods; Lead; Mining; Pharmacokinetics; Wetlands; Zinc

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 2001 Water Environment Federation, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 2001