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  • 1 University Leipzig Institute of Geophysics and Geology Permoserstr. 15 D-04318 Leipzig Germany
  • | 2 University Leipzig Institute of Geography Leipzig Germany
  • | 3 Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing Berlin Germany
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The contamination of potable water aquifers by heavy metals is one of the most severe environmental threats. For the transport of heavy metals from various types of contaminated sites into the ground water and also into surface water aquifers, humic substances (HS) are recognized to be of main importance. Dissolved in natural waters humic substances are readily complexed with a variety of metal ions. Therefore, humic substances are of cardinal importance for the migration and, consequently, the pollution of ground waters with heavy metals. Our paper presents the results of a comprehensive comparison of several isolated humic acids of soils of different origin (different geochemical milieu) and their metal complexes. Two polluted sites in Germany, which differ in their geochemical milieu (pH-value) were selected. The aim of our experiments was to describe the properties of terrestrial humic substances depending on their origin and genesis as well as the effects of the transport of humic substance-bound metals into the water-unsaturated soil zone. After determination of heavy metals in the soils by photon activation analysis the activated soil was used as an inherent tracer in batch experiments with the isolated humic acid. After adsorption of the loaded humic acid on an XAD-8 resin column, the partition of metals mobilized by humic acids could be quantified. There are correlations of the formation of metal-humic complexes with the soil pedogenes, with the pH-value as well as with the humic acid concentration.