Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 20, pp 19566–19584 | Cite as

Trace elements concentration and distributions in coal and coal mining wastes and their environmental and health impacts in Shaanxi, China

  • Rahib Hussain
  • Kunli LuoEmail author
  • Zhao Chao
  • Zhao Xiaofeng
Research Article


This study probe the probable impacts of coal mining pollution and its impacts on human’s health and environment. A total of 144 samples including coal and coal wastes, soil, plants, foods, and water were collected from the Hancheng county and countryside of Shaanxi, China. All the samples were analyzed for trace elements using ICP-MS, OES, and AFS. Results showed that the concentration of Se, As, Cr, Cu, Pb, Cd, Co, Ni, Mo, U, Th (mgKg−1), Fe, Mn, Al, Ti (%) etc., in coal and coal wastes were 7.5, 12.1, 275, 55, 54.2, 0.8, 14.8, 94.5, 8.9, 4.9, 17.2, 3.5, 0.02, 19, 0.7, respectively. While in soil 0.6, 12, 194, 27.5, 7.4, 0.6, 11.3, 83.4, 0.7, 1.7, 9.9, 3.1, 0.04, 10.5, and 0.4 for the above elements, respectively. In Hancheng foods, the average concentration of Se-0.09, As-0.15, Cr-1.8, Cu-3.2, Pb-0.4, Cd-0.02, Co-0.09, Ni-0.4, Mo-0.64, U-0.01, Th-0.03, Fe-129, Mn-15.6, Al-234, and Ti-5.2 in mgKg−1, respectively, which are comparably higher than the countryside. The elemental concentration in groundwater of both areas was below the WHO-2004 standard. In Hancheng, the average daily intake (mgKg−1bw/d) of Se 0.004–0.0038, As 0.004–0.13, Cr 0.055–0.06, Cd 0.001–0.004, Ni 0.018–13.91, Pb 0.05–0.001 adult-children, respectively. The toxic trace elements such as Cr, Cu, Mn, Pb, Ti, Cd, Co, Th, Fe, Al, and Mo caused non-carcinogenic risk with high morbidity in children than adults. By assessing environmental risks, coal and coal wastes caused high risk, food and plants faced moderate to high risk, while mountain and agriculture soil are prone to low to considerable risk. The pollution in Hancheng County is extreme as compared to the countryside. The study concluded that the contamination is geogenic in both the areas but coal mining enhance the metals contamination and has extensive impacts on the living community and environment of Hancheng areas.


Coal Coal mining wastes Environmental risk Geochemical characters Health risk assessment Pollution 



The National Basic Research Program of China (Grant No. 2014CB238906), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 41172310 and 41472322) and CAS-TWAS Ph.D. fellowship, supported this study. We are grateful to Mr. Gao Bolin and the workers of Liaoyuan Coalmine, Hancheng coal mining Bureau, for their permit and help us to collect the samples in their Coalmine field. The authors are highly grateful to local guileless residents of Hancheng, Shaanxi, for them allow us to go to their homes and farming fields to collect samples of food, drinking water and soil.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_2148_MOESM1_ESM.docx (5 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 5161 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rahib Hussain
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kunli Luo
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Zhao Chao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Zhao Xiaofeng
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resource ResearchBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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