Main content area

Mercury and other metal and metalloid soil contamination near a Pb/Zn smelter in east Hunan province, China

Li, Zhonggen, Feng, Xinbin, Li, Guanghui, Bi, Xiangyang, Sun, Guangyi, Zhu, Jianming, Qin, Haibo, Wang, Jianxu
Applied geochemistry 2011 v.26 no.2 pp. 160-166
arsenic, cadmium, copper, environmental assessment, forest soils, lead, mercury, paddies, pollutants, remediation, risk, soil pollution, soil profiles, topsoil, vegetables, wind direction, zinc, China
The spatial distributions of contaminant metals (Hg, Pb, Zn, Cd, Cu) and a metalloid (As) in vegetable plots and paddy fields located near a large scale Pb/Zn smelter in Hunan province, China, were investigated. Soil located 4km from the smelter was severely contaminated, with maximum concentrations of Hg, Pb, Zn, Cd, Cu and As as high as 2.89, 1200, 3350, 41.1, 157 and 93mgkg⁻¹, respectively. Concentrations of soil metal and As decreased with distance in the dominant wind direction. Single-factor assessment indicated pollution levels of Hg, Pb, Zn and Cd were most severe, while pollution levels for Cu and As were less severe. Results from a potential ecological risk assessment indicated high risk associated with the soil within a 4km radius, with the contribution for each contaminant calculated as follows: Cd (70.0%), Hg (19.4%), Pb (4.8%), As (3.0%), Cu (1.7%) and Zn (1.1%). The forest soil in the nearby city park was also affected by the atmospheric depositions from smelting activities. Soil profiles demonstrated the pollutants were mostly accumulated in the upper 20cm layer. Contamination of the topsoil with Hg, Pb, Zn, Cd, Cu and As indicated remediation should be considered.