Clay liners have been widely used to contain toxic and hazardous waste materials. Clays absorb contaminant cations due to their exchange capacity. To improve the performance of the clay liner, fly ash, a waste material arising from the combustion of coal has been studied as a pie-filter material. In particular, the retention of lead by two different fly ashes was studied. The influence of pH on ... [Show full abstract] retention as well as leaching characteristics are also examined. The results obtained from the retention experiments by the permeameter method indicate that fly ash retains the lead ions through precipitation in the pores as well as onto the surface when the ambient pH value is more than 5.5, and through adsorption when the pH value is less than 5.5. It has been observed that fly ash did not release the retained lead ions when the pH value is between 3.5 and 10.0. Hence, the retention of lead ions by fly ash is likely to be permanent since the pH of most of the municipal landfill leachates are within 3.7 to 8.8. However, for highly acidic or alkaline leachates, the retained ions can get released.