Nine selected elements (Cu, Pb, As, Zn, Co, Ni, Cr, Cd and Fe) were determined by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy in 15 samples from the tailings pond (Zelazny Most) and waste water streams (Moskorzynke and Rudna) in the Kupferschiefer mining district in Southwest Poland. Waste water from mining and industry enter the Zelazny Most pond. The water then flows through Moskorzynke and Rudna streams, and discharges into the River Odra. The analytic results indicate that the contamination with Cu, Pb, Zn, As, Co, Cd and Fe extend about 6 km along the streams in contrast to the non‐polluted samples close the River Odra. Their concentrations reach a level, which could be toxic for plants, animals and humans. The contamination with Ni and Cr continued at least 20 km along Rudna stream. Besides mechanical transport, redox conditions and Corg contents also played an important role for trace element and Fe contamination in Rudna stream. The samples with high Corg contents have also high contents of trace metals. In Moskorzynke stream the element contamination was mainly caused by mechanical transport of particles. Polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), which is abundant in Kupferschiefer, is toxic for animals and humans. The PAH concentration in the stream sediments was determined by GC and GC/MS. The results indicate that the contamination of PAH reaches 6 and 17 mg kg−1 in samples TP1 and RS6, respectively. In the other samples, the PAH contents are lower than 3 mg kg−1. Some PAH could be solved by waste water in the tailings pond and migrated to the stream sediments. Some PAH might be contained in particles which were transported mechanically from the tailings pond into stream sediments.
Kupferschiefertailings pondtoxic elementwaste water