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Science in the News

Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health

  • Exposure assessment for the abandoned metal mine area contaminated by arsenic 2019-04-23

    Abstract

    Among the results of community health impact assessments completed in 2014, residents of the Indae abandoned metal mine area showed high average urinary concentrations of harmful arsenic (As), at 148.9 µg/L. The concentration of harmful As was derived as the sum of As(V), As(III), MMA, and DMA concentrations known to be toxic. In this area, mining hazard prevention work was not carried out and the pollution source was neglected, and the health effect of the residents due to arsenic exposure was concerned. We re-assessed As exposure levels and tried to identify exposure factors for residents of this area. Analysis of the soil, sediment, and river water to assess the association between the soil of the Indae abandoned metal mine area and the soil in residential areas confirmed a correlation between Pb and As concentrations in the soil. Since Pb and As behave similarly, the use of the stable Pb isotope ratio for assessment of the pollution source tracking was validated. In the 3-isotope plot (207/206Pb vs. 208/206Pb) of soil samples in this area, a stable Pb isotope ratio was located on the same trend line, which confirmed that the soil in the residential area was within the area of influence of the Indae abandoned metal mine. Therefore, we judged that the pollution source of As was the Indae abandoned metal mine. The results by As species were As (III) 1.45 μg/L, As (V) 0.74 μg/L, monomethylarsonic acid (MMA) 2.43 μg/L, dimethylarsinic acid (DMA) 27.63 μg/L, and arsenobetaine 88.62 μg/L. The urinary harmful As was 31.92 μg/L, much lower than the 148.9 μg/L reported in a 2014 survey, due to the implementation of a multi-regional water supply in November 2014 that restricted As exposure through drinking river water. However, concerns remain over chronic exposure to As because As in river water used for farming and in agricultural soil still exceeds environmental standards; thus, ongoing work to address hazards from former mining areas and continued environmental monitoring is necessary.

  • Structural characteristics of humic substances in buried ancient paddy soils as revealed by 13 C NMR spectroscopy 2019-04-23

    Abstract

    The study of organic matter in ancient paddy soils is helpful for understanding the influence of human activities on soil carbon sequestration and global climate change. However, little information on the spatial distribution and structural characteristics of the humic substances (HS) in ancient paddy soils is available. The spatial distributions of humic acids (HAs) and fulvic acids (FAs) in ancient paddy soils and modern cultivated paddy soils at the Shanlonggang site on the Liyang Plain were investigated, and the associated structures were characterized by using 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). The 13C NMR spectra revealed the following carbon types in HAs and FAs in both types of paddy soil in order of decreasing abundance: O-alkyl carbon (ranging from 39.7 to 51.8% and from 42.6 to 50.9%, respectively) ≥ alkyl carbon (ranging from 16.8 to 23.5% and from 15.7 to 22.4%, respectively) ≈ carboxyl carbon (ranging from 13.3 to 19.3% and from 16.9 to 22.0%, respectively) > aromatic carbon (ranging from 12.8 to 23.5% and from 10.0 to 17.2%, respectively). Moreover, the degree of aromaticity of HA was higher than that of FA in both soil samples. The humic constituents of the buried ancient paddy soils were less aromatic and oxidized than those of the modern cultivated paddy soils. The organic carbon in the ancient paddy soils was also less aromatic and oxidized than that in the modern cultivated paddy soils, suggesting that the structures of the HS in the ancient paddy soils were relatively simple. The results of this study provide new insights into the effect of secondary paddy soil formation on the spatial distribution, structural characteristics, and stability mechanisms of the HS in ancient paddy soils.

  • Quantitative assessment of exposure of heavy metals in groundwater and soil on human health in Reasi district, Jammu and Kashmir 2019-04-22

    Abstract

    The assessment of heavy metal contents in environmental sectors is important to estimate the carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic doses and risks for the mankind associated with it. The present work deals with the assessment of the risk exposure related to heavy metal contents in groundwater and soil samples to two different age groups via three different transits, i.e., ingestion, inhalation and dermal. The concentrations of heavy metals (Zn, Cd, Cu, Pb and Cr) were measured in the villages of lower Himalayas of Reasi district by using microwave plasma atomic emission spectrometer. The calculated mean contamination factors of heavy metals in soil samples were as: Zn, 0.73; Cu, 0.70; Pb, 0.74; and Cr, 0.33; which led to pollution load index less than unity. The overall carcinogenic risks have been varied from 6.4E−08 to 5.1E−07 in soil samples and from 7.3E−06 to 1.1E−04 in ground water samples and were found to be well within the range prescribed by USEPA (Screening level ecological risk assessment protocol for hazardous waste combustion facilities, appendix E: toxicity reference values, US Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., 1999). The mean values of heavy metal contents except lead and chromium in water samples were found to be less than the values prescribed by various agencies. Geo-accumulation Index showed that Pb contribute to the highest contamination (0 < Igeo < 1) among the other heavy metals. Cluster analysis and principal component analysis identified that Zn, Cu, Pb and Cr had a relationship and the presence of these heavy metals could be related to vehicle emissions, traffic sources and industrial sources. The overall mean values of the non-carcinogenic doses and associated hazard risks in soil and water samples calculated for children were found to be higher than the adults which may be due to hand to mouth activities.