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Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2013 Nov;20(11):7560-9. doi: 10.1007/s11356-013-1616-y. Epub 2013 May 8.

Assessing anthropogenic sources of mercury in soil in Wanshan Hg mining area, Guizhou, China.

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State Key Laboratory of Environmental Geochemistry, Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guiyang, 550002, China.


Long-term mining and smelting activities brought a series of environmental issues into soils in Wanshan mercury (Hg) mining area (WMMA), Guizhou, China. Several studies have been published on the concentrations of Hg in local soils, but a comprehensive assessment of the mass of Hg in soil induced by anthropogenic activities, as presented in this paper, has not been previously conducted. Three districts of WMMA were chosen as the study areas. We summarized previous published data and sampled 14 typical soil profiles to analyze the spatial and vertical distributions of Hg in soil in the study areas. The regional geologic background, direct and indirect Hg deposition, and Hg-polluted irrigation water were considered as the main sources of Hg contaminations in local soils. Furthermore, the enrichment factor (EF) method was applied to assess the extent of anthropogenic input of Hg to soil. Titanium (Ti) was chosen to be the reference element to calculate the EF. Generally, the elevated values of EF were observed in the upper soil layers and close to mine wastes. The total budget of Hg in soil contributed from anthropogenic sources was estimated to be 1,227 t in arable soil and 75 t in natural soil. Our data showed that arable soil was the major sink of anthropogenic Hg in the study area.

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