This work investigated heavy metal and cyanide pollution in surface soils and edible plants around Yanzhuang gold tailings ponds in the region of Yanzhuang Village in Pinggu District, Beijing. Surface soil samples were collected from 33 sites around gold tailings ponds, and concentrations of seven heavy metals (i.e., Sb, As, Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn, and Hg) and cyanide were analyzed to determine their spatial distributions, pollution degrees, and sources. The potential ecological risks of As, Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn, and Hg were preliminarily assessed. The results showed that the mean cyanide, Sb, As, Cd, Cu, and Pb concentrations were higher than the standard values. The pollutant concentrations around the tailings ponds were high and decreased with increasing distance from the ponds. The single pollution index indicated that cyanide, As, and Cd were the main pollutants. The Nemerow pollution index revealed a large region and serious degree of heavy metal pollution in soils. The potential ecological risk level of the study area was moderate, with Cd and As posing the main risks. Multivariate statistical analysis suggested that the heavy metal and cyanide pollution present mainly derived from gold tailings, with agricultural pollution also had a certain effect. However, the 12 edible plants sampled were basically not polluted.
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The assistance of the Beijing Branch of ALS Analytical Testing (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., in detecting the pollution element contents in the soil and the assistance of the Beijing Center for Physical and Chemical Analysis in detecting the pollution element contents in plants are gratefully acknowledged.
This study was supported by the Beijing Tailings Ponds Investigation and Impact Assessment Project (No. TC170855A).
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Fu, L., Zhang, Z., Zhang, Q. et al. Spatial distribution, risk assessment, and source identification of pollutants around gold tailings ponds: a case study in Pinggu District, Beijing, China. Environ Monit Assess 193, 483 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-021-09274-w
- Gold tailings pond
- Heavy metals
- Potential ecological risk
- Source identification