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Probing the distribution and contamination levels of 10 trace metal/metalloids in soils near a Pb/Zn smelter in Middle China

Li, Zhonggen, Feng, Xinbin, Bi, Xiangyang, Li, Guanghui, Lin, Yan, Sun, Guangyi
Environmental science and pollution research international 2014 v.21 no.6 pp. 4149-4162
atmospheric deposition, chromium, cobalt, digestion, lead, nickel, soil depth, soil sampling, spectroscopy, zinc, China
The horizontal and vertical distribution patterns and contamination status of ten trace metal/metalloids (Ag, Bi, Co, Cr, Ge, In, Ni, Sb, Sn, Tl) in soils around one of the largest Chinese Pb–Zn smelter in Zhuzhou City, Central China, were revealed. Different soil samples were collected from 11 areas, including ten agricultural areas and one city park area, with a total of 83 surface soil samples and six soil cores obtained. Trace metal/metalloids were determined by inductively coupled plasma–mass spectrometry after digestion by an acid mixture of HF and HNO₃. The results showed that Ag, Bi, In, Sb, Sn, and Tl contents decreased both with the distance to the Pb–Zn smelter as well as the soil depth, hinting that these elements were mainly originated from the Pb–Zn smelting operations and were introduced into soils through atmospheric deposition. Soil Ge was influenced by the smelter at a less extent, while the distributions of Co, Cr, and Ni were roughly even among most sampling sites and soil depths, suggesting that they were primarily derived from natural sources. The contamination status, as revealed by the geo-accumulation index (Igₑₒ), indicated that In and Ag were the most enriched elements, followed by Sb, Bi, and Sn. In general, Cr, Tl, Co, Ni, and Ge were of an uncontaminated status.