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Sci Total Environ. 2018 Aug 15;633:958-966. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.03.227. Epub 2018 Mar 28.

Source and path identification of metals pollution in a mining area by PMF and rare earth element patterns in road dust.

Author information

1
Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 10049, China.
2
Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 10049, China. Electronic address: liangt@igsnrr.ac.cn.
3
Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China; University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 10049, China. Electronic address: likx@igsnrr.ac.cn.

Abstract

To better assess pollution and offer efficient protection for local residents, it is necessary to both conduct an exhaustive investigation into pollution levels and quantify its contributing sources and paths. As it is the biggest light rare earth element (REE) reserve in the world, Bayan Obo deposit releases large amounts of heavy metals into the surrounding environment. In this study, road dust from zones located at different distances to the mining area was collected and sieved using seven sizes. This allowed for subsequent analysis of size-dependent influences of mining activities. A receptor model was used to quantitatively assess mine contributions. REE distribution patterns and other REE parameters were compared with those in airborne particulates and the surrounding soil to analyze pollution paths. Results showed that 27 metals were rated as moderately to extremely polluted (2<geo-accumulation index<6) in both mine processing and residential areas. REEs are the most polluted elements, followed by Mo, Cd, Pb, and Ag. Although mining contribution to pollution levels increased with decreasing distance and size, 35% of REEs and 6% of other polluted metals in residential area road dust originated directly from the mine. The provenance index (PI) calculated using the REE parameters confirmed this result. While the REE distribution pattern showed that airborne particulates may not be the path for mining-derived particles, they may be one for other sources.

KEYWORDS:

Mining contamination; Pollution path; Quantification; REEs

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