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Assessing anthropogenic levels, speciation, and potential mobility of rare earth elements (REEs) in ex-tin mining area

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A study was carried out to determine the level of rare earth elements (REEs) in water and sediment samples from ex-mining lakes and River in Kinta Valley, Perak, Malaysia. Surface water and sediments from an ex-mining lake and Kinta River water samples were analyzed for REEs by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The total concentration of REEs in the ex-mining lake water samples and sediments were found to be 3685 mg/l and 14159 mg/kg, respectively, while the total concentration of REEs in Kinta River water sample was found to be 1224 mg/l. REEs in mining lake water were found to be within 2.42 mg/l (Tb) to 46.50 mg/l (Ce), while for the Kinta River, it was 1.33 mg/l (Ho) to 29.95 mg/l (Ce). Sediment samples were also found with REEs from 9.81 mg/kg (Ho) to 765.84 mg/kg (Ce). Ce showed the highest average concentrations for mining lake (3.88 to 49.08 mg/l) and Kinta River (4.44 to 33.15 mg/l) water samples, while the concentration of La was the highest (11.59 to 771.61 mg/kg) in the mining lake sediment. Lu was shown to have the highest enrichment of REEs in ex-mining lake sediments (107.3). Multivariate statistical analyses such as factor analysis and principal component analysis indicated that REEs were associated and controlled by mixed origin, with similar contributions from anthropogenic and geogenic sources. The speciation study of REEs in ex-tin mining sediments using a modified five-stage sequential extraction procedure indicated that yttrium (Y), gadolinium (Gd), and lanthanum (La) were obtained at higher percentages from the adsorbed/exchanged/carbonate fraction. The average potential mobility of the REEs was arranged in a descending order: Yb > Gd > Y = Dy > Pr > Er > Tm > Eu > Nd > Tb > Sc > Lu > Ce > La, implying that under favorable conditions, these REEs could be released and subsequently pollute the environment.

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The work reported in this paper was carried out in High Impact Research Laboratory and UMCiL, Department of Chemistry, and some of the facilities were utilized from Geohydrology Laboratory, Department of Geology, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and was supported through UM Research Grant RG257-13AFR and IPPP grant PG133-2014B.

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Correspondence to Ahmad Farid Abu Bakar.

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Capsule Abstract

Elevated Ce and La in waters. The highest enrichment of Lu in mining lake sediments. Average potential mobility of REEs in decreasing order: Yb > Gd > Y = Dy > Pr > Er > Tm > Eu > Nd > Tb > Sc > Lu > Ce > La

An erratum to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-9087-1.

Responsible editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Khan, A.M., Yusoff, I., Bakar, N.K.A. et al. Assessing anthropogenic levels, speciation, and potential mobility of rare earth elements (REEs) in ex-tin mining area. Environ Sci Pollut Res 23, 25039–25055 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-016-7641-x

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  • Rare earth elements
  • Ex-tin mining area
  • Chemical speciation