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Heavy Metal Pollution Associated with an Abandoned Lead–Zinc Mine in the Kirki Region, NE Greece


The “Agios Philippos” mine in the Kirki region (NE Greece) has been abandoned in 1998 after half a century of ore exploration without a reclamation or remediation plan. This article aims at elucidating the potential environmental risks associated with this site by quantifying pollution in tailing basins, stream waters, stream sediments and agricultural fields. Concentrations of heavy metals in the abandoned mine tailings reached 12,567 mg/kg for Pb, 22,292 mg/kg for Zn, 174 mg/kg for Cd and 241 mg/kg for As. The geoaccumulation index and enrichment factor for these metals were indicative of extremely high contamination (I geo > 5) and extremely high enrichment (EF > 40), respectively. Stream waters in the proximity of the mine had an acidic pH equal to 5.96 and a high sulfate content (SO −24  = 545.5 mg/L), whereas concentrations of Mn, Zn and Cd reached 2,399 μg/L, 7,681 μg/L and 11.2 μg/L. High I geo and EF values for Cd, Zn and As in stream sediments indicates that surface water pollution has a historic background, which is typically associated with acid mine drainage. Agricultural fields in the proximity of the mine exhibited high I geo and EF values, which were in decreasing order Cd > Pb > Zn > As. These findings urge for an immediate remediation action of the afflicted area.

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Christos Nikolaidis has been supported by the Greek State Scholarships Foundation (IKY).

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Correspondence to Christos Nikolaidis.

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Nikolaidis, C., Zafiriadis, I., Mathioudakis, V. et al. Heavy Metal Pollution Associated with an Abandoned Lead–Zinc Mine in the Kirki Region, NE Greece. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 85, 307–312 (2010).

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  • Abandoned mine
  • Heavy metal
  • Geochemical index
  • Enrichment factor