Blending foundry sands with soil: Effect on dehydrogenase activity

Robert S. Dungan, Urzsula Kukier, Brad Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Each year U.S. foundries landfill several million tons of sand that can no longer be used to make metalcasting molds and cores. A possible use for these materials is as an ingredient in manufactured soils; however, potentially harmful metals and resin binders (used to make cores) may adversely impact the soil microbial community. In this study, the dehydrogenase activity (DHA) of soil amended with molding sand (clay-coated sand known as "green sand") or core sands at 10%, 30%, and 50% (dry wt.) was determined. The green sands were obtained from iron, aluminum, and brass foundries; the core sands were made with phenol-formaldehyde or furfuryl alcohol based resins. Overall, incremental additions of these sands resulted in a decrease in the DHA which lasted throughout the 12-week experimental period. A brass green sand, which contained high concentrations of Cu, Pb, and Zn, severely impacted the DHA. By week 12 no DHA was detected in the 30% and 50% treatments. In contrast, the DHA in soil amended with an aluminum green sand was 2.1 times higher (all blending ratios), on average, at week 4 and 1.4 times greater (30% and 50% treatments only) than the controls by week 12. In core sand-amended soil, the DHA results were similar to soils amended with aluminum and iron green sands. Increased activity in some treatments may be a result of the soil microorganisms utilizing the core resins as a carbon source. The DHA assay is a sensitive indicator of environmental stress caused by foundry sand constituents and may be useful to assess which foundry sands are suitable for beneficial use in the environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-230
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Mar 15 2006


  • Beneficial use
  • Dehydrogenase
  • Green sand
  • Heavy metals
  • Resin binders
  • Soil microbial activity
  • Waste foundry sand

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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