Are the soils and vegetation of a forest close to tailings ponds affected by metals and arsenic?

Journal ar
Environmental Geochemistry and Health
  • Fecha: 01 January 2021
  • ISSN: 15732983 02694042
  • Source Type: Journal
  • DOI: 10.1007/s10653-021-01035-5
  • Document Type: Article
  • Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media B.V.
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.This study aimed to determine the transfer of metals (Cd, Pb and Zn) and As to a Mediterranean forest close to five tailings ponds in Cartagena-La Union mining district (SE Spain). In addition, the effect of the rhizosphere of two native plant species, Olea europaea (OE) and Pistacia lentiscus (PL), on soil properties and chemical speciation of metal(oid)s was evaluated. Results showed there was no influence of the rhizosphere in the total concentration of metal(loid)s in soil, decreasing as Pb > Zn > As > Cd. Chemical partitioning revealed that only Cd and As can be considered hazardous, with a high percentage of these elements in the soil-labile fractions (20¿40%). The accumulation in vegetal tissues was only high for Pb in PL roots, which makes it a suitable species for phytostabilization. Additionally, translocation factors showed transfer of Pb and Zn in OE, and Zn in PL to aerial parts, although no toxicity evidences for plants or animals were found. Finally, soil properties affected metal(loid)s accumulation in plants. The OE species was related to soil-labile metal(loid) fractions and pH, total N, organic carbon and silt content. The PL species were associated with immobilized metal(loid) fractions, sand content, electrical conductivity and total concentrations of As, Cd and Pb. Hence, mining activity has affected native adjacent soils, with accumulation of metals in plant species, although translocation was low, likely due to physiological strategies of the studied species to protect themselves against hazardous elements, and to the high soil pH, which limits metals¿ mobility.

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