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Experimental Study of Mobility and Kinetic Characterization of Trace Elements in Contaminated Sediments from a River Basin in Northern Peru

Yacoub, Cristina, Miralles, Nuria, Valderrama, César
Human and ecological risk assessment 2015 v.21 no.3 pp. 828-844
EDTA (chelating agent), bioavailability, cadmium, gold, leaching, metalloids, nitric acid, pH, risk, risk assessment, rivers, sediment contamination, sediments, trace elements, watersheds, Peru
In the Jequetepeque basin (Peru), gold extraction activity has been performed in the last decades, leading to a release of metals and metalloids into the environment. Sediment samples were taken in the vicinity of two mines and analyzed. Extraction of metals and metalloids from sediments was carried out using single extraction procedures, acidic (HNO ₃), and complexation (EDTA) leaching, in order to determine the mobility of trace elements. Results indicated that acidic extraction at low pH values increased the leachability of trace elements. EDTA showed a higher bioavailability of metals in sediments than acidic extraction under similar pH conditions because of its greater leaching capacity. This is an important issue in view of risk assessment analysis. The highest extractability was observed for Cd in all sediments with up to 90% of extraction after 1 h. The mobility index analysis indicated that faster kinetic leachability of some trace elements leads to a higher mobility in sediments, especially those near the active gold extraction mine. The ecological risk assessment suggested that the four river sediments were at high and very high risk levels, indicating that sediment contamination is an issue of environmental concern in the Jequetepeque basin of northern Peru.