Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 184, Issue 4, pp 2261–2273 | Cite as

Impacts of lead/zinc mining and smelting on the environment and human health in China

  • Xiuwu Zhang
  • Linsheng Yang
  • Yonghua Li
  • Hairong Li
  • Wuyi Wang
  • Bixiong Ye


Mining and smelting are important economic activities. However, mining-related industries are also some of the largest sources of environmental pollution from heavy metals. China is one of the largest producers and consumers of lead and zinc in the world. A large amount of lead, zinc, and related elements, such as cadmium, have been released into the environment due to mineral processing activities and have impacted water resources, soils, vegetables, and crops. In some areas, this pollution is hazardous to human health. This article reviews studies published in the past 10 years (2000–2009), on the environmental and human health consequences of lead/zinc mineral exploitation in China. Polluted areas are concentrated in the following areas: the junction of Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces, west-central Hunan province, central Guangxi province, northern Guangdong, northwestern Henan province, the border between Shanxi and Gansu provinces, and the region of Liaoning province near Bohai. Lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) are the main pollutants and are associated with human health effects such as high lead blood levels in children, arthralgia, osteomalacia, and excessive cadmium in urine.


Lead/zinc mineral exploitation Impact Environment Human health China 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiuwu Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Linsheng Yang
    • 1
  • Yonghua Li
    • 1
  • Hairong Li
    • 1
  • Wuyi Wang
    • 1
  • Bixiong Ye
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Geography and Human Health, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of ScienceBeijingChina
  2. 2.Graduate University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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