The possible pH dependent dissolution of aluminum hydroxides (Al(OH)(3)) from lake sediments was studied in six lakes previously treated with Al to bind excess phosphorus (P). Surface sediment was suspended for 2 h in lake water of pH 7.5, 8.5, or 9.5 with resulting stepwise increments in dissolved Al observed in all lakes. The amount of dissolved Al increased proportional to the sediment content of Al(OH)(3) as quantified by a sequential extraction technique. Up to 24% of the sediment Al(OH)(3) could dissolve within 2 h at pH 9.5 and a portion of sediment P was dissolved concomitantly. Lowering pH to 7 caused 30-100% of the dissolved Al to precipitate again after 24 h. Re-precipitation of mobilized P varied from 50% to more than 100%. A test with untreated sediment showed the same proportionality which means that also indigenous Al(OH)(3) can dissolve frequently in lakes with high pH water. Release rates of dissolved Al from intact sediment cores at the same three pH values was measured in three of the lakes, and showed increased Al release rates at pH 8.5 in one of the lakes and 9.5 in two of the lakes. Our study demonstrates a risk of dissolution of sediment Al(OH)(3) to form aluminate in shallow lakes, where resuspension and high pH in the water occurs frequently. In the worst case dissolved Al may reach toxic levels in lakes treated by Al but also the concomitant release of P and the possible loss of dissolved Al to downstream ecosystems are negative effects that may occur already at more modest dissolution of Al(OH)(3) and Al-bound P.
Water Research, 2013, Vol 47, Issue 3, p. 1409-1420