Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Trace metal and metalloid levels in surface water of Marcal River before and after the Ajka red mud spill, Hungary

Abstract

The aim of this study was to compare and assess the dissolved concentrations of trace elements (As, Zn, Hg, Cd, Cr, Ni, Pb and Cu) in surface water of Marcal River before and after the red mud spill that occurred in Ajka, western Hungary, in October 2010. The caustic sludge flooded the surrounding settlements and polluted the nearby Torna Creek, which flows through the Marcal and Raba rivers into the Danube. A total of 92 surface water samples were collected from the Marcal River in the period of 2007–2012 and analysed for dissolved trace metal(loid)s by atomic absorption spectroscopy method. After the spill, the water management authority initially focused on acid dosing of surface waters to lower pH and was effective in lowering both pH and metal(loid) concentrations. Among the dissolved trace metal(loid)s, arsenic and nickel levels were moderately higher in the Marcal River 2 years since the spill compared to that observed in the pre-disaster period. The concentrations of dissolved trace metal(loid)s did not exceed the European water quality standards and the US Environmental Protection Agency aquatic life criteria values (excluding one sample for cadmium).

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

References

  1. Akinci A, Artir R (2008) Characterization of trace elements and radionuclides and their risk assessment in red mud. Mater Charact 59(4):417–421

  2. Anton A, Rékási M, Uzinger N, Széplábi G, Makó A (2012) Modelling the potential effects of the Hungarian red mud disaster on soil properties. Water Air Soil Pollut 223:5175–5188

  3. Atasoy A (2005) An investigation on characterization and thermal analysis of the Aughinish red mud. J Thermal Anal Calor 81:357–361

  4. ATSDR (2004) Toxicological profile for copper. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta

  5. ATSDR (2005) Toxicological profile for nickel. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta

  6. ATSDR (2007) Toxicological profile for arsenic. U.S. Department of Health and Human services, Public Health Service, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Atlanta

  7. Burke IT, Mayes WM, Peacock CL, Brown AP, Jarvis AP, Gruiz K (2012) Speciation of arsenic, chromium, and vanadium in red mud samples from the Ajka spill site, Hungary. Environ Sci Technol 46:3085–3092

  8. EU Directive (2009) European Communities environmental objectives (surface waters) regulations 2009. S.I. No. 272 of 2009

  9. EU Directive (2012) European Communities environmental objectives (surface waters) (amendment) regulations 2012. S.I. No. 327 of 2012

  10. EU Commission Directive (2009) Commission Directive 2009/90/EC of 31 July 2009 laying down, pursuant to Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, technical specifications for chemical analysis and monitoring of water status.

  11. Gelencsér A, Kováts N, Turóoczi B, Rostási Á, Hoffer A, Imre K, Nyirő-Kósa I, Csákberényi-Malasics D, Tóth Á, Czitrovsky A, Nagy A, Nagy S, Ács A, Kovács A, Ferincz Á, Hartyáni Z, Pósfai M (2011) The red mud accident in Ajka (Hungary): characterization and potential health effects of fugitive dust. Environ Sci Technol 45:1608–1615

  12. Gruiz K, Feigl V, Klebercz O, Anton A, Vaszita E (2012) Environmental risk assessment of red mud contaminated land in Hungary. Proceedings of GeoCongress 2012 (State of the Art and Practice in Geotechnical Engineering Congress) ASCE, Oakland, USA, pp 4156–4165

  13. Gubcsi L, Zsalakó I, Isaszegi J (eds) (2011) Current issues in catastrophe management—the red mud accident. Zrínyi Média, Budapest, pp 7–92 (in Hungarian)

  14. Harka Á (2010) Prospects of Marcal River and Torna Creek. Life Sci 45:1414–1416 (in Hungarian)

  15. Horowitz AJ (1985) A primer on trace metal-sediment chemistry. United States Geological Survey, Water-Supply Paper 2277

  16. Hungarian Directive (2010) Hungarian environmental quality standards applicable to surface water. 10/2010. (VIII. 18.) VM (in Hungarian)

  17. IMPEL (2011) Massive alumina red sludge release after the failure of a containment dam 4 October 2010 Kolontár Hungary. French Ministry for Sustainable Development-DGPR/BARPI- Hungarian Ministry for Rural Development, No. 39047

  18. Janák E (2011) Report of the red mud catastrophe in the operating area of the North Transdanubian Regional Environmental Protection and Water Management Directorate from October 4, 2010. North Transdanubian Regional Environmental Protection and Water Management Directorate, Győr (in Hungarian)

  19. JDS1 (2002) Joint Danube Survey. Technical report of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, Austria Vienna

  20. JDS2 (2008) Joint Danube Survey 2. Final scientific report. International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, Vienna, Austria

  21. Liu DY, Wu CS (2012) Stockpiling and comprehensive utilization of red mud research progress. Materials 5:1232–1246

  22. Materazzi S, Canepari S, Aquili S (2012) Monitoring heavy metal pollution by aquatic plants: a systematic study of copper uptake. Environ Sci Pollut Res 19:3292–3298

  23. Mayes WM, Jarvis AP, Burke IT, Walton M, Gruiz K (2011a) Trace and rare earth element dispersal downstream of the Ajka red mud spill, Hungary. Proceedings of 11th International Mine Water Association Congress (IMWA)–Mine Water–Managing the Challenges, Aechen, Germany, pp 29–34

  24. Mayes WM, Jarvis AP, Burke IT, Walton M, Feigl V, Klebercz O, Gruiz K (2011b) Dispersal and attenuation of trace contaminants downstream of the Ajka bauxite residue (red mud) depository failure, Hungary. Environ Sci Technol 45:5147–5155

  25. MSZ ISO 5667–6 (1995) Guide for surface water sampling, rivers and creeks. Hungarian Standard Association, Budapest (in Hungarian)

  26. MSZ 1484–3 (2006) Determination of dissolved, suspended and total metals in water by AAS and ICP-OES. Hungarian Standard Association, Budapest (in Hungarian)

  27. Renforth P, Mayes WM, Jarvis AP, Burke IT, Manning DAC, Gruiz K (2012) Contaminant mobility and carbon sequestration downstream of the Ajka (Hungary) red mud spill: the effects of gypsum dosing. Sci Total Environ 421–422:253–259

  28. Ruyters S, Mertens J, Vassilieva E, Dehandschutter B, Poffijn A, Smolders E (2011) The red mud accident in Ajka (Hungary): plant toxicity and trace metal bioavailability in red mud contaminated soil. Environ Sci Technol 45(4):1616–1622

  29. Sandor ZS, Csengeril I, Oncsik MB, Alexis MN, Zubcova E (2001) Trace metal levels in freshwater fish, sediment and water. Environ Sci Pollut Res 8(4):265–268

  30. Smedley PL, Kinniburgh DG (2002) A review of the source, behaviour and distribution of arsenic in natural waters. Appl Geochem 17:517–568

  31. US EPA Criteria (2002) National Recommended Water Quality Criteria: 2002. Health and Ecological Criteria Division, Office of Science and Technology, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

  32. US EPA Criteria (2007) Aquatic life ambient freshwater quality criteria—copper. Office of Water, Office of Science and Technology Washington, DC, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

  33. US EPA Criteria (2012) National recommended water quality criteria (aquatic life criteria table). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/standards/criteria/current/index.cfm. Accessed 25 November 2012

  34. Utasi A, Rédey Á, Horváth E, Kurdi R, Kovács J, Domokos E, Yuzhakova T, Kovács Zs, Somogyi V, Katona Cs, Bui P, Csom V, Lászlóné K (2012) An environmental catastrophe and its incorporation into the environmental engineering curriculum at the University of Pannonia. Proceedings of 3rd WIETE Annual Conference on Engineering and Technology Education, Pattaya, Thailand, pp 17–20

  35. Vágföldi Z (2011) Environmental effects of the red mud disaster, remediation process and applied procedures. Mil Eng 6(1):261–275 (in Hungarian)

  36. WT-REPWMD (2011) Summary of the remediation process and work in the Marcal basin after the red mud disaster occurred on 4 October 2010. West Transdanubian Regional Environmental Protection and Water Management Directorate, Szombathely (in Hungarian)

  37. Yim JH, Kim KW, Kim SD (2006) Effect of hardness on acute toxicity of metal mixtures using Daphnia magna: prediction of acid mine drainage toxicity. J Hazard Mater 138(1):16–21

  38. Zubcov E, Zubcov N, Ene A (2012) Assessment of copper and zinc levels in fish from freshwater ecosystems of Moldova. Environ Sci Pollut Res 19:2238–2247

Download references

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the Széchenyi István University (Hungary).

Author information

Correspondence to Andrea Szabó Nagy.

Additional information

Responsible editor: Stuart Simpson

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Nagy, A.S., Szabó, J. & Vass, I. Trace metal and metalloid levels in surface water of Marcal River before and after the Ajka red mud spill, Hungary. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20, 7603–7614 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-013-2071-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Trace metals
  • Arsenic
  • Red mud
  • Marcal
  • Danube