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Science in the News

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

  • Geochemistry of tin (Sn) in Chinese coals 2015-02-17


    Based on 1625 data collected from the published literature, the geochemistry of tin (Sn) in Chinese coals, including the abundance, distribution, modes of occurrence, genetic types and combustion behavior, was discussed to make a better understanding. Our statistic showed the average Sn of Chinese coal was 3.38 mg/kg, almost two times higher than the world. Among all the samples collected, Guangxi coals occupied an extremely high Sn enrichment (10.46 mg/kg), making sharp contrast to Xinjiang coals (0.49 mg/kg). Two modes of occurrence of Sn in Chinese coals were found, including sulfide-bounded Sn and clay-bounded Sn. In some coalfields, such as Liupanshui, Huayingshan and Haerwusu, a response between REEs distribution and Sn content was found which may caused by the transportation of Sn including clay minerals between coal seams. According to the responses reflecting on REEs patterns of each coalfield, several genetic types of Sn in coalfields were discussed. The enrichment of Sn in Guangxi coals probably caused by Sn-rich source rocks and multiple-stage hydrothermal fluids. The enriched Sn in western Guizhou coals was probably caused by volcanic ashes and sulfide-fixing mechanism. The depletion of Sn in Shengli coalfield, Inner Mongolia, may attribute to hardly terrigenous input and fluids erosion. As a relative easily volatilized element, the Sn-containing combustion by-products tended to be absorbed on the fine particles of fly ash. In 2012, the emission flux of Sn by Chinese coal combustion was estimated to be 0.90 × 109 g.

  • Environmental risk induced by TiO 2 dispersions in waters and sediments: a case study 2015-02-15


    A southern Italian area that is characterized by large outcrops of rocks that are rich in titanium oxide (TiO2) phases were investigated to determine the mineralogical risk induced by the natural dispersion of TiO2 minerals. Rock, sediment and surface water samples were collected to determine the physicochemical and mineralogical factors (i.e., size distribution, morphology and alteration) indicative of potential TiO2 toxicity. X-ray diffraction data suggested that titanium oxides were present as rutile and anatase. Scanning electron microscopy images showed elongated TiO2 morphologies; fibres were found as either isolated or embedded/enclosed in flake-like phyllosilicates. The concentration of fibres in stream water ranged from 1.7 to 4.6 million fibres per litre. The highest fibre amounts in the sediments were in the <8-µm fraction, while single fibres were primarily concentrated in the <2-µm fraction. The results indicate that titanium oxide minerals represent a natural source of environmental risk and that the geomineralogical characterization of rich TiO2 areas is indispensable for understanding their geoavailability, dispersion and distribution.

  • Alterations in antioxidant defense system of workers chronically exposed to arsenic, cadmium and mercury from coal flying ash 2015-02-07


    Humans are exposed to different stress factors that are responsible for over-production of reactive oxygen species. Exposure to heavy metals is one of these factors. The aim of the study was to analyze the effect of chronic exposure to heavy metals through coal flying ash on the efficiency of antioxidative defensive mechanisms, represented by the activity of superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and ascorbic acid. Nonessential elements such as arsenic and mercury levels showed a significant increase (p > 0.001) in the power plant workers rather than in the control subjects. There were no significant differences of blood cadmium between power plant workers and control subjects. We found a significant positive correlation (p < 0.05) between BAs/SZn (r = 0.211), BAs/BSe (r = 0.287), BCd/SCu (r = 0.32) and BHg/BSe (r = 0.263) in the plant workers. Red blood cell antioxidant enzymes and plasma ascorbic acid were significantly lower in power plants workers than in the control group (p < 0.002). We can conclude that levels of mercury, arsenic and cadmium in blood, despite their concentration within the reference values, significantly affect plasma ascorbic acid concentration, superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase activity, which are able to increase the risk of oxidative stress.