Chelating agents are added to soil to solubilise the metals for enhanced phytoextraction. Yet no studies follow the displacement and leaching of heavy metals in soil with biosolids following solubilisation with chelates. The objective of this work was to determine the mobility of heavy metals in biosolids in a soil from a sludge farm that had received biosolids for 25 years. The soil was placed in columns in a greenhouse. Columns either had a plant (poplar) or no plant. After the poplar seedlings had grown for 144 d, the tetrasodium salt of the chelating agent EDTA was irrigated onto the surface of the soil at a rate of 1 g per kg of soil. Drainage water was analysed for three toxic heavy metals and four essential heavy metals. Without EDTA, concentrations of the seven heavy metals in the leachate from columns with or without plants were low or below detection limits. With or without plants, the EDTA mobilised all heavy metals and increased their concentration in drainage water. Without plants, the concentrations of Cd, Cu, Fe, and Zn in the leachate from columns with EDTA were above drinking-water standards. The presence of poplar plants in the soil reduced the concentrations of Cu, Fe, and Zn in the leachate so it fell within drinking-water standards. Concentrations of Cd and Pb in the leachate remained above drinking-water standards with or without plants.

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