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Open AccessArticle

Risk Assessment and Source Identification of Toxic Metals in the Agricultural Soil around a Pb/Zn Mining and Smelting Area in Southwest China

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Guizhou Provincial Key Laboratory for Information System of Mountainous Areas and Protection of Ecological Environment, Guizhou Normal University, Guiyang 550001, China
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Department of Geography and Environmental Science, Guizhou Normal University, Guiyang 550001, China
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(9), 1838; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15091838
Received: 19 June 2018 / Revised: 22 July 2018 / Accepted: 26 July 2018 / Published: 25 August 2018
Mining and smelting activities are the primary sources of toxic metal pollution in China. The purpose of this study was to investigate the pollution risk and identify sources of metals in the arable soil of a Zn/Pb mining and smelting district located in Huize, in Southwest China. Topsoil (346) and profile (three) samples were collected and analyzed to determine the total concentrations of eight toxic elements (Cd, Hg, As, Pb, Cr, Cu, Zn and Ni). The results showed that the mean Cd, Hg, As, Pb, Cr, Cu, Zn and Ni concentrations were 9.07, 0.37, 25.0, 512, 88.7, 239, 1761 and 90.3 mg/kg, respectively, all of which exceeded both the Huize and Yunnan soil background levels. Overall the topsoil was quite acidic, with a mean pH of 5.51. The mean geoaccumulation index (Igeo) revealed that the pollution level was in the order of Pb > Zn > Cd > Hg > As > Ni > Cu > Cr. The ecological risk index (Ei) indicated that there were serious contamination risks for Cd and Hg, high risk for Pb, moderate risk for As, and Cd and Hg were the dominant contributors to the high combined ecological risk index (Er) with a mean parameter of 699 meaning a serious ecological risk. The Nemerow pollution index (Pn) showed that 99.1% of soil samples were highly polluted or worse. Horizontally, high concentrations of Cd, Hg, As, Pb and Zn appeared in the north and middle of the study area, while Cr, Cu and Ni showed an opposite trend. Vertically, as the depth increased, Cd, Hg, As, Pb and Zn contents declined, but Cr, Cu and Ni exhibited an increasing trend. The mobilities of the metals were in the order of Zn > Cd > Hg > As > Pb. Horizontal and vertical distribution, coupled with correlation analysis, PCA and CA suggested that Cd, Hg, As, Pb and Zn mainly came from the anthropogenic sources, whereas Cr and Ni had a lithogenic origin. The source of Cu was a combination of the presence of parent materials as well as human activities. This study provides a base for the local government to control the toxic metal pollution and restore the soil environment system and an effective method to identify the sources of the studied pollutants. View Full-Text
Keywords: Pb/Zn mining and smelting area; toxic metals; agricultural soil; spatial distribution; source identification; risk assessment Pb/Zn mining and smelting area; toxic metals; agricultural soil; spatial distribution; source identification; risk assessment
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Wu, J.; Long, J.; Liu, L.; Li, J.; Liao, H.; Zhang, M.; Zhao, C.; Wu, Q. Risk Assessment and Source Identification of Toxic Metals in the Agricultural Soil around a Pb/Zn Mining and Smelting Area in Southwest China. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 1838.

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