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Article

Natural Background Levels of Potentially Toxic Elements in Groundwater from a Former Asbestos Mine in Serpentinite (Balangero, North Italy)

1
Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Pavia, Via Ferrata 9, I-27100 Pavia, PV, Italy
2
R.S.A. Srl, Viale Copperi 15, I-10070 Balangero, TO, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Elisabetta Preziosi
Water 2021, 13(5), 735; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050735
Received: 30 January 2021 / Revised: 27 February 2021 / Accepted: 2 March 2021 / Published: 8 March 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Background Levels in Groundwater)
The definition of natural background levels (NBLs) for potentially toxic elements (PTEs) in groundwater from mining environments is a real challenge, as anthropogenic activities boost water–rock interactions, further increasing the naturally high concentrations. This study illustrates the procedure followed to derive PTE concentration values that can be adopted as NBLs for the former Balangero asbestos mine, a “Contaminated Site of National Interest”. A full hydrogeochemical characterisation allowed for defining the dominant Mg-HCO3 facies, tending towards the Mg-SO4 facies with increasing mineralisation. PTE concentrations are high, and often exceed the groundwater quality thresholds for Cr VI, Ni, Mn and Fe (5, 20, 50 and 200 µg/L, respectively). The Italian guidelines for NBL assessment recommend using the median as a representative concentration for each monitoring station. However, this involves discarding half of the measurements and in particular the higher concentrations, thus resulting in too conservative estimates. Using instead all the available measurements and the recommended statistical evaluation, the derived NBLs were: Cr = 39.3, Cr VI = 38.1, Ni = 84, Mn = 71.36, Fe = 58.4, Zn = 232.2 µg/L. These values are compared to literature data from similar hydrogeochemical settings, to support the conclusion on their natural origin. Results highlight the need for a partial rethink of the guidelines for the assessment of NBLs in naturally enriched environmental settings. View Full-Text
Keywords: trace metals; Lanzo Massif; ultramafic rocks; ophiolites; chromium; hexavalent chromium; nickel; neutral mine drainage trace metals; Lanzo Massif; ultramafic rocks; ophiolites; chromium; hexavalent chromium; nickel; neutral mine drainage
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MDPI and ACS Style

Sacchi, E.; Bergamini, M.; Lazzari, E.; Musacchio, A.; Mor, J.-R.; Pugliaro, E. Natural Background Levels of Potentially Toxic Elements in Groundwater from a Former Asbestos Mine in Serpentinite (Balangero, North Italy). Water 2021, 13, 735. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050735

AMA Style

Sacchi E, Bergamini M, Lazzari E, Musacchio A, Mor J-R, Pugliaro E. Natural Background Levels of Potentially Toxic Elements in Groundwater from a Former Asbestos Mine in Serpentinite (Balangero, North Italy). Water. 2021; 13(5):735. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050735

Chicago/Turabian Style

Sacchi, Elisa, Massimo Bergamini, Elisa Lazzari, Arianna Musacchio, Jordi-René Mor, and Elisa Pugliaro. 2021. "Natural Background Levels of Potentially Toxic Elements in Groundwater from a Former Asbestos Mine in Serpentinite (Balangero, North Italy)" Water 13, no. 5: 735. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050735

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