Mercury contamination and health risk to crops around the zinc smelting plant in Huludao City, northeastern China.
ABSTRACT The Huludao zinc plant in Liaoning province, northeast China was the largest in Asia, and its smelting activities had seriously contaminated soil, water and atmosphere in the surrounding area. For the first time, we investigated the total mercury (THg) content in maize, soybean, broomcorn, 22 vegetables, and the soil around their roots from eight sampling plots near the Huludao zinc plant. THg contents of the seeds of maize, soybean, and broomcorn are 0.008, 0.006, and 0.057 mg kg(-1), respectively, with the broomcorn being the highest, exceeding the maximum level of contaminant in food (GB2762-2005) by 4.7 times. The edible parts of vegetables are also contaminated with a range of mercury contents of 0.001-0.147 mg kg(-1) (dry weight). THg contents in plant tissue decrease in the order of leaves > root > stalk > grain. Using correlation analysis, we show that mercury in the roots of these plants is mainly derived from soil, and the uptake of gaseous mercury is the predominant path by which the mercury accumulated in the foliage. The average and maximum mercury daily intake (DI) of adult around the Huludao zinc plant via consuming vegetables are 0.015 and 0.051 microg/kg/d, respectively, and those of children are 0.02 and 0.07 microg/kg/d, respectively. The average and maximum weekly intakes of total mercury for adult are 2.1 and 7.1%, respectively, of the provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI), and 2.8 and 9.7%, respectively, of the PTWI for children.
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ABSTRACT: A field survey of mercury pollution in environmental media and human hair samples obtained from residents living in the area surrounding the Chatian mercury mine (CMM) of southwestern China was conducted to evaluate the health risks of mercury to local residents. The results showed that mine waste, and tailings in particular, contained high levels of mercury and that the maximum mercury concentration was 88.50 μg g(-1). Elevated mercury levels were also found in local surface water, paddy soil, and paddy grain, which may cause severe health problems. The mercury concentration of hair samples from the inhabitants of the CMM exceeded 1.0 μg g(-1), which is the limit recommended by the US EPA. Mercury concentrations in paddy soil were positively correlated with mercury concentrations in paddy roots, stalks, and paddy grains, which suggested that paddy soil was the major source of mercury in paddy plant tissue. The average daily dose (ADD) of mercury for local adults and preschool children via oral exposure reached 0.241 and 0.624 μg kg(-1) body weight per day, respectively, which is approaching or exceeds the provisional tolerable daily intake. Among the three oral exposure routes, the greatest contributor to the ADD of mercury was the ingestion of rice grain. Open-stacked mine tailings have resulted in heavy mercury contamination in the surrounding soil, and the depth of appreciable soil mercury concentrations exceeded 100 cm.Environmental Geochemistry and Health 06/2012; 35(1). DOI:10.1007/s10653-012-9470-2 · 2.57 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Contents of total Hg and Hg fraction, organic matter, pH, grain size and chemical composition were measured to investigate the pollution characteristics and binding behavior of Hg in soils collected from the Chatian Hg mining deposit (CMD), southwestern China. The average concentration of Hg concentration in the CMD soils was 155 and 1,315 times higher than that in control soils and Chinese soils, respectively, suggesting that the CMD soils were heavily contaminated by the element. The finding was confirmed by Müller geoaccumulation index assessment with 75% very seriously polluted, 6.25% highly to very highly polluted and 18.75% moderately to highly polluted. Hg sources in the region were natural and anthropogenic: in addition to the pedogenic process and original geochemical situation, human mining-refining activities have also seriously impacted the redistribution of Hg in soils, especially in paddy soils. Based on the BCR protocol, soil Hg was divided into exchangeable (EXC), amorphous Fe-Mn oxides (AFe-MnOX), organic-crystalline iron oxides (OM-CFe) and residual (RES) fraction. The average percentage of the four fractions in the CMD followed the trend: RES (85.77%) > OM-CFe (12.44%) > AFe-MnOX (0.93%) ≥ EXC (0.86%), suggesting that the majority proportion of soil Hg in the study area remained of residual form inside the soil mineral matrix. However, their concentrations and percentages significantly varied among different locations and land use types. Soil physico-chemical parameters were key factors affecting the presence of Hg fraction. Generally, Hg fraction concentrations were positively correlated with the sand contents and soil pH values, which was presumably due to the basic anthropogenic input of Hg-containing materials and their similarity to sand in physical characteristics. However, organic matter caused adsorption-fixation and reduction-volatilization to coexist, which had opposite effects on Hg concentrations in soil, consequently exhibiting its dual nature.Environmental Geochemistry and Health 10/2008; 31(6):617-28. DOI:10.1007/s10653-008-9206-5 · 2.57 Impact Factor