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Centre for Earth and Environmental Science Research

The Structures of Natural and Synthetic Jarosite-type compounds: Implications for Incorporation of Potentially Toxic Metals

Executive Summary
ResearchersDr P.J.Murphy, CEESR
Dr Karen A. Hudson-Edwards, Research School of Earth Sciences, UCL-Birkbeck, Birkbeck, University of London.
Funding Body/SourceKingston University
Duration2002 onwards
Project SummaryJarosite minerals often occur in acid mine drainage areas. Jarosites are highly effective scavengers of potentially toxic elements such as Pb and Cu, and are abundant in acid rock drainage systems, acid sulfate soils and metallurgical wastes. Jarosite minerals are members of the isostructural jarosite-alunite group of minerals that has a formula such as that of Beaverite [Pb(Fe,Cu)3(SO4)2(OH)6)]

Raman spectra for natural beaverite and synthetic Pb-Cu-jarosite.
I have been conducting and interpreting Raman analyses. One paper has already been accepted for publication, and another is underway.


The Water Framework Directive (European Community 2000) aims to restore all waters to 'good ecological status' by 2015. This necessitates understanding and regulation of the inputs of substances to surface waters, which may impair water quality from chemical and ecological standpoints.

Within the UK, little information is available on inputs from sewage treatment works (STW) in the context of water quality. Water companies are granted licences based upon their wastewater treatment specifications. It is therefore logical to assess the pollution potential of treated wastewater inputs as part of the process for compliance with the WFD (European Community 2000).

Inputs to rivers and streams from STW's have been identified as a substantial source of pollutants (Alcock et al., 1999; Neal, 2005; Hernando et al.,. 2006). STW inputs can include a cocktail of chemicals, such as nutrients, pesticides, metals and other emerging contaminants (e.g. endocrine disrupting chemicals). However, metals (e.g. As, Pb. Cd, Cr, Ni, Cu, Zn) and nutrients (N and P) are particularly relevant because of their persistence and storage in sediments (metals) and implication for eutrophication (nutrients). Nitrogen (nitrate-N) and phosphorus are key water quality issues of relevance to the WFD and to much of the lowland UK (EA, 2000). These two nutrients come primarily from sewage and agricultural sources (Jarvie et al., 2002; Neal et al., 2005).

Pollution sources such as acid-mine drainage (Jeong et al., 1999) urban runoff (Davis et al., 2001), leaching and runoff from municipal or industrial waste amended soils (Unlu 1998; Gove et al., 2001) are renowned for introducing metals to receiving surface- and ground-waters. However, STW inputs as a source of surface water contamination with heavy metals has received little attention.

Progress to date

Sewage Treatment Works (SWT's) at Hogsmill Valley, Berrylands and Lyne Lane, Thorpe, discharge into small rivers where no other potential source of contaminant exists. River water samples up and downstream of their wastewater outflows are being analysed for P species and heavy metals on a regular basis. Flow and depth measurements are taken manually, and flow data obtained from the E.A., to allow calculation of metal and P loads as well as concentrations to be used to determine the potential effect of discharges into the receiving waters.

Sediment samples from a number of locations up and downstream of these STW's have been taken for analysis of P and metals. In addition, one off sampling of other STW's is being undertaken to provide spatial information on the possible progress of contaminants along the river path.

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