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Science in the News
Latest on-line papers from the SEGH journal: Environmental Geochemistry and Health
- Ecological conditions of ponds situated on blast furnace slag deposits located in South Gare Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Teesside, UK 2015-06-01
Slag, a by-product from the iron and steel industry, has a range of applications within construction and is used in wastewater treatment. Historically considered a waste material, little consideration was given to the environmental impacts of its disposal. South Gare (a Site of Special Scientific Interest) located at the mouth of the Tees estuary, UK, formed on slag deposits used to create a sea wall and make the land behind permanent. Over time, ponds formed in depressions with the water chemistry, being significantly impacted by the slag deposits. Calcium levels reached 504 mg/L, nitrate 49.0 mg/L and sulphate 1,698 mg/L. These levels were also reflected in the composition of the sediment. pH (5.10–9.90) and electrical conductivity (2,710–3,598 µS/cm) were variable but often notably high. Pb, Cu and Cd were not present within the water, whilst Zn ranged from 0.027 to 0.37 mg/L. Heavy metal levels were higher in surface sediments. Zinc was most dominant (174.3–1,310.2 mg/L) followed by Pb (9.9–431 mg/L), Cu (8.4–41.8 mg/L) and Cd (0.4–1.1 mg/L). A sediment core provided a historical overview of the ponds. The ponds were unfavourable for aquatic biodiversity and unsuitable for drinking water abstraction.
- Identification of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in soils in Taizhou, East China 2015-06-01
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their hazards in surface soil (n = 92) were investigated in Taizhou, China, which is an area in East China famous for production and exporting of rice. Total concentrations of PAHs in soils ranged from 2.3 × 101 to 7.6 × 102 with a mean of 1.8 × 102 μg/kg (dry mass; dm). Concentrations of 16 PAHs reported here were less than those observed in most previous studies in China and other countries. Concentrations of individual PAH in fluvo-aquic soils were greater than those in paddy soils except naphthalene. Fluoranthene and pyrene were dominant PAHs, which accounted for 19.7 and 13.3 % of the total mass of PAHs, respectively. Based on ratios of low molecular weight PAHs to high molecular weight PAHs, diagnostic ratios and principal component analysis, the predominant source of PAHs was combustion and pyrolysis, especially coal, natural gas, gasoline and diesel emissions from traffic, as well as burning of straw. Carcinogenic potencies of 13 samples were 1.1- to 2.9-fold greater than the target values promulgated by the Netherlands, indicating increased carcinogenic risks of soils from these sites. However, risks of cancer via accidental ingestion, dermal absorption and inhalation to humans posed by PAHs in soil were relatively small.
- Mercury hair levels and factors that influence exposure for residents of Huancavelica, Peru 2015-06-01
Between 1564 and 1810, nearly 17,000 metric tons of mercury (Hg) vapor was released to the environment during cinnabar refining in the small town of Huancavelica, Peru. The present study characterizes individual exposure to mercury using total and speciated Hg from residential samples, total Hg in hair, and self-reported questionnaire data regarding factors influencing exposure (e.g., frequency of fish consumption, occupation). Total Hg concentrations in hair from 118 participants ranged from 0.10 to 3.6 µg/g, similar to concentrations found in the USA and lower than concentrations in other Hg-exposed populations around the world. Pearson’s correlation coefficients for data in this study suggest that there is a positive correlation between concentrations of total Hg in hair and concentrations of total Hg in adobe bricks, dirt floors, and surface dust; however, these correlations are not statistically significant. Results of a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) identified that total Hg concentrations in hair were significantly related to gender (p < 0.001), living in a neighborhood where smelters were previously located (p = 0.021), smoking status (p = 0.003), frequency of house cleaning (p = 0.019), and frequency of fish consumption (p = 0.046). These results highlight the need for further studies to better characterize Hg exposure in Huancavelica, particularly as related to residential contamination. A comprehensive analysis of residential Hg contamination and exposure in Huancavelica will guide the development and implementation of mitigation and remediation strategies in the community to reduce potential health risks from residential Hg exposure.