Mercury contamination and health risk to crops around the zinc smelting plant in Huludao City, northeastern China

Graduate School, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Peping, Beijing, China
Environmental Geochemistry and Health (Impact Factor: 2.57). 10/2007; 29(5):385-93. DOI: 10.1007/s10653-007-9083-3
Source: PubMed


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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    • "In addition, Hg stress is believed to trigger the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), causing oxidative stress and membrane lipid peroxidation in plants [14], [15]. Hg in soil can accumulate in the edible parts of vegetables and crops, and is then transferred to humans via the food chain [16]. Hg is also toxic to humans, causing impaired health in adults. "
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    ABSTRACT: To investigate the genetic mechanism of mercury accumulation in maize (Zea mays L.), a population of 194 recombinant inbred lines derived from an elite hybrid Yuyu 22, was used to identify quantitative trait loci (QTLs) for mercury accumulation at two locations. The results showed that the average Hg concentration in the different tissues of maize followed the order: leaves > bracts > stems > axis > kernels. Twenty-three QTLs for mercury accumulation in five tissues were detected on chromosomes 1, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10, which explained 6.44% to 26.60% of the phenotype variance. The QTLs included five QTLs for Hg concentration in kernels, three QTLs for Hg concentration in the axis, six QTLs for Hg concentration in stems, four QTLs for Hg concentration in bracts and five QTLs for Hg concentration in leaves. Interestingly, three QTLs, qKHC9a, qKHC9b, and qBHC9 were in linkage with two QTLs for drought tolerance. In addition, qLHC1 was in linkage with two QTLs for arsenic accumulation. The study demonstrated the concentration of Hg in Hg-contaminated paddy soil could be reduced, and maize production maintained simultaneously by selecting and breeding maize Hg pollution-safe cultivars (PSCs).
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Heavy metals in soil parent materials may become active and mobile during soil weathering and pedogenesis (Sterckeman et al. 2004; Ji et al. 2009). Some reports have shown that the vertical distribution of heavy metals in soil profiles in mining areas is related to mining history, including the transportation and disposal of slag (Chopin and Alloway 2007; Zheng N et al. 2007). Research on the vertical distribution of heavy metals in cultivated soil profiles has also focused on sludge application and wastewater irrigation (Dowdy et al. 1991; Richards et al. 1998; Chen and Ma 2011; Xu et al. 2012). "
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    ABSTRACT: Five profiles located in the peri-urban market garden of Yunnan Province, China were investigated for the distribution and sequential extraction fractions (SEF) of Pb, Cd, Cu and Zn, and mobility in relation to soil properties. SEF heavy metals included acetic acid extractable (A-fraction), hydroxylamine hydrochloride extractable (B-fraction) and hydrogen peroxide and ammonium acetate extractable fractions (C+D-fraction). The results showed that: (1) Total Pb and Zn contents decreased with soil depth. The accumulation of different fractions of Pb and Zn was due to accumulation of organic carbon and Fe-Mn oxides. (2) Total Cd content increased with soil depth with the ratio of A to C horizons (RAC)<1.0. Cd was relatively mobile within the A horizon. C+D-Cd contents were consistent with organic carbon accumulation. (3) Total Cu content in profiles 2 and 3 decreased with depth, while in other profiles it increased. A-Cu contents in the B horizon in profiles 1, 2 and 3 were higher than in the A and C horizons, and decreased with depth in profiles 4 and 5 in the transition unit. B-Cu content increased with depth, whereas C+D-Cu contents decreased. The mobility and redistribution of heavy metals in soil profiles were influenced by clay content, organic carbon and Fe-Mn oxides.
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    • "A significant body of research on mercury (Hg) has been performed because of its adverse impacts on public health and environmental quality (Horvat et al. 2003; Taylor et al. 2005; Appleton et al. 2006; Feng et al. 2006; Qiu et al. 2006; Zheng et al. 2007; Kim and Jung 2012). Currently, the global input of anthropogenic mercury to the environment is estimated to be 2,000–2,200 ton yr -1 (Seigneur et al. 2004), 12 % of which is derived from the mining–refining industry (Han et al. 2006). "
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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.
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