Bioavailability assessment of phosphorus and metals in soils and sediments: a review of diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT)

Chaosheng Zhang*, Shiming Ding, Di Xu, Ya Tang, Ming Hung WONG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)


This paper provides an overview of the principle and latest development of the diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT) technology and its applications in environmental studies with a focus on bioavailability assessment of phosphorus and metals in sediments and soils. Compared with conventional methods, DGT, as a passive sampling method, has significant advantages: in situ measurement, time averaged concentrations and high spatial resolution. The in situ measurement avoids artificial influences including contamination of samples and sample treatment which may change the forms of chemicals. The time averaged concentration reflects representative measurement over a period of time. The high-resolution information captures the biogeochemical heterogeneity of elements of interest distributed in microenvironments, such as in the rhizosphere and the vicinity of the sediment-water interface. Moreover, DGT is a dynamic technique which simultaneously considers the diffusion of solutes and their kinetic resupply from the solid phases. All the advantages of DGT significantly promote the collection of “true” information of the bioavailable or labile forms of chemicals in the environment. DGT provides potential for applications in agriculture, environmental monitoring and the mining industry. However, the applications are still at the early testing stage. Further studies are needed to properly interpret the DGT-measured results under complex environmental conditions, and standard procedures and guideline values based on DGT are required to pave the way for its routine applications in environmental monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7367-7378
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Binding gels
  • Bioavailability
  • Diffusive gradients in thin films (DGT)
  • High resolution
  • Metals
  • Phosphorus
  • Soil


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