Contaminants such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), arsenic (As), heavy metals, and infectious pathogens are often associated with agricultural systems. Various soil and water remediation techniques including the use of chemical amendments have been employed to reduce the risks associated with these contaminants. This paper reviews the use of chemical amendments for immobilizing principal agricultural contaminants, the chemistry of contaminant immobilization, and the environmental consequences associated with the use of these chemical products. The commonly used chemical amendments were grouped into aluminum-, calcium-, and iron-containing products. Other products of interest include phosphorus-containing compounds and silicate clays. Mechanisms of contaminant immobilization could include one or a combination of the following: surface precipitation, adsorption to mineral surfaces (ion exchange and formation of stable complexes), precipitation as salts, and co-precipitation. The reaction pH, redox potential, clay minerals, and organic matter are potential factors that could control contaminant-immobilization processes. Reviews of potential environmental implications revealed that undesirable substances such as trace elements, fluoride, sulfate, total dissolved solids, as well as radioactive materials associated with some industrial wastes used as amendment could be leached to ground water or lost through runoff to receiving water bodies. The acidity or alkalinity associated with some of the industrial-waste amendments could also constitute a substantial environmental hazard. Chemical amendments could introduce elements capable of inducing or affecting the activities of certain lithotrophic microbes that could influence vital geochemical processes such as mineral dissolution and formation, weathering, and organic matter mineralization.
*Original abstract online at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412010001583