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: The province of Guizhou in Southwestern China is currently one of the world's most important mercury production areas. Emissions of mercury from the province to the global atmosphere have been estimated to be approximately 12% of the world total anthropogenic emissions. The main objective of this study was to assess the level of contamination with Hg in two geographical areas of Guizhou province. Mercury pollution in the areas concerned originates from mercury mining and ore processing in the area of Wanshan, while in the area of Quingzhen mercury pollution originates from the chemical industry discharging Hg through wastewaters and emissions to the atmosphere due to coal burning for electricity production. The results of this study confirmed high contamination with Hg in soil, sediments and rice in the Hg mining area in Wanshan. High levels of Hg in soil and rice were also found in the vicinity of the chemical plant in Quingzhen. The concentrations of Hg decreased with distance from the main sources of pollution considerably. The general conclusion is that Hg contamination in Wanshan is geographically more widespread, due to deposition and scavenging of Hg from contaminated air and deposition on land. In Quingzhen Hg contamination of soil is very high close to the chemical plant but the levels reach background concentrations at a distance of several km. Even though the major source of Hg in both areas is inorganic Hg, it was observed that active transformation of inorganic Hg to organic Hg species (MeHg) takes place in water, sediments and soils. The concentration of Hg in rice grains can reach up to 569 microg/kg of total Hg of which 145 microg/kg was in MeHg form. The percentage of Hg as MeHg varied from 5 to 83%. The concentrations of selenium can reach up to 16 mg/kg in soil and up to 1 mg/g in rice. A correlation exists between the concentration of Se in soil and rice, indicating that a portion of Se is bioavailable to plants. No correlation between Hg and Se in rice was found. Exposure of the local population to Hg may occur due to inhalation of Hg present in air (in particular in Hg mining area) and consumption of Hg contaminated food (in particular rice and fish) and water. Comparison of intake through these different routes showed that the values of Hg considerably exceed the USA EPA Reference Concentration (RfC) for chronic Hg exposure (RfC is 0.0004 mg/m(3)) close to the emission sources. Intake of Hg through food consumption, particularly rice and fish, is also an important route of Hg exposure in study area. In general, it can be concluded that the population mostly at risk is located in the vicinity of smelting facilities, mining activities and close to the waste disposal sites in the wider area of Wanshan. In order to assess the real level of contamination in the local population, it is recommended that biomonitoring should be performed, including Hg and MeHg measurements in hair, blood and urine samples.Science of The Total Environment 04/2003; 304(1-3):231-56. · 3.26 Impact Factor
- Environmental Pollution 02/2003; 124(3):357-60. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Calculated loading rates of trace metals into the three environmental compartments demonstrate that human activities now have major impacts on the global and regional cycles of most of the trace elements. There is significant contamination of freshwater resources and an accelerating accumulation of toxic metals in the human food chain.Nature 06/1988; 333(6169):134-9. · 38.60 Impact Factor