Provenance and environmental risk of windblown materials from mine tailing ponds, Murcia, Spain

Journal ar
Environmental Pollution
  • Volumen: 241
  • Fecha: 01 October 2018
  • Páginas: 432-440
  • ISSN: 18736424 02697491
  • Source Type: Journal
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.05.084
  • Document Type: Article
  • Publisher: Elsevier Ltd
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd Atmospheric particulates play a vital role in the transport of potentially toxic metals, being an important exposure pathways of people to toxic elements, which is faster and can occur in a much larger scale than water, soil and biota transport. Windblown materials in abandoned tailing ponds have not been well examined. The objectives of this investigation were: to study the major physical and geochemical properties of the materials eroded by wind inside the tailing ponds, and to understand the relative contribution of different sources to its heavy metals concentration. Study area is located in Cartagena-La Union mining district (SE Spain), where metallic mining of Fe, Pb and Zn has been developed for more than 2500 years. Wind-eroded particulates were monthly collected at 3 different heights (20, 50, and 80 cm) from the ground for a period of a full year using 4 dust collectors. Four tailing samples and 4 surface soil samples from the surrounding hills were also taken. Dust, soil, and tailing samples were examined for pH, particle size distribution, electrical conductivity, calcium carbonate content, Pb, Cu, Zn, Cd, Mn, Co, Ni, Ti and Zr concentrations. The results indicated that very coarse textured, slightly saline, and almost neutral wind-eroded deposits were generated with a very high temporal variability throughout the year. They also showed that the concentration of Cd, Mn, Pb and Zn, in the dust samples is extraordinarily high (18, 1254, 1831, and 5747 mg kg¿1 respectively), whereas Co, Ni, and Cu had concentrations into the range of background concentrations found in the Earth's crust (3.8, 12, and 60 mg kg¿1 respectively). Besides, the concentration of both categories of heavy metals in the dust samples was higher than that in tailing and less than that of the soils. The barren surfaces of tailing ponds and also the surface soils of the surrounding area seem to be the major contributors to the dust collected. Therefore, abandoned mines as well as their tailing ponds should be rehabilitated by proper technologies and then well stabilized and/or covered by appropriate plant vegetation to control the transfer, particularly by air, of environmentally hazardous materials to other areas.

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