Abandoned mining areas can display soil and water pollution and also a high incidence of endemic diseases. Here, based on preliminary results on mental retardation and high incidence rates of cancers, we investigate the contamination status and potential ecological risk at an abandoned pyrite mine located in Xianju village, Hubei province, central China. The study focused on the three potentially toxic metals As, Pb, and Zn and four other common elements, including Ca, Fe, S, and Se. Soil samples were collected from 12 sites and leachate seeping from five sites. Leachates were strongly acidic compared to the soil, with pH values <3.22. Soil As and Se concentrations exceeded the Chinese Grade II standards for soil environmental quality (GB 15618-2009) (30 and 3 mg·kg−1
, respectively), ranging from 33.6 ± 0.7 to 78.2 ± 1.0 mg As·kg−1
dry matter (DM) and 5.3 ± 0.8 to 17.1 ± 1.4 mg Se·kg−1
DM. Arsenic, Fe, Se, and S in leachates all exceeded the Chinese Grade III standard for surface water environmental quality (GB 3838-2002) (0.1, 0.3, 0.03, and 1.0 mg·L−1
). The potential ecological risks from Pb and Zn in soils were low, but As in soils and leachates represented a moderate or strong risk to children according to the Nemerow index and hazard quotient. Soil replacement combined with further remediation measures is required to remediate the contaminated area.
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