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).
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This work was supported by the Széchenyi István University (Hungary).
Responsible editor: Stuart Simpson
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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
- Trace metals
- Red mud