Water, Air, & Soil Pollution

, Volume 216, Issue 1–4, pp 485–504 | Cite as

Heavy Metal Concentration Survey in Soils and Plants of the Les Malines Mining District (Southern France): Implications for Soil Restoration

  • Jose EscarréEmail author
  • Claude Lefèbvre
  • Stephan Raboyeau
  • Anabelle Dossantos
  • Wolf Gruber
  • Jean Claude Cleyet Marel
  • Helene Frérot
  • Nausicaa Noret
  • Stephanie Mahieu
  • Christian Collin
  • Folkert van Oort


Mining activities generate spoils and effluents with extremely high metal concentrations of heavy metals that might have adverse effects on ecosystems and human health. Therefore, information on soil and plant metal concentrations is needed to assess the severity of the pollution and develop a strategy for soil reclamation such as phytoremediation. Here, we studied soils and vegetation in three heavily contaminated sites with potential toxic metals and metalloids (Zn, Pb, Cd, As, TI) in the mining district of Les Malines in the Languedoc region (southern France). Extremely high concentrations were found at different places such as the Les Aviniéres tailing basins (up to 160,000 mg kg–1 Zn, 90,000 mg kg–1 Pb, 9,700 mg kg–1 of As and 245 mg kg–1 of Tl) near a former furnace. Metal contamination extended several kilometres away from the mine sites probably because of the transport of toxic mining residues by wind and water. Spontaneous vegetation growing on the three mine sites was highly diversified and included 116 plant species. The vegetation cover consisted of species also found in non-contaminated soils, some of which have been shown to be metal-tolerant ecotypes (Festuca arvernensis, Koeleria vallesiana and Armeria arenaria) and several Zn, Cd and Tl hyperaccumulators such as Anthyllis vulneraria, Thlaspi caerulescens, Iberis intermedia and Silene latifolia. This latter species was highlighted as a new thallium hyperaccumulator, accumulating nearly 1,500 mg kg–1. These species represent a patrimonial interest for their potential use for the phytoremediation of toxic metal-polluted areas.


Soil pollution Hyperaccumulation Phytostabilisation Mine tailings Metal-tolerant species 



The authors thank Guy Delmot for authorising the work at the Les Avinières site and for his kind hospitality. We also thank Perrine Gauthier, Violette Sarda and David Degueldre for their technical assistance and Cécile Grand (Ademe) for her scientific and administrative help. This research was fully supported by a contract with the Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie (Ademe contract 04.72.C.0037).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jose Escarré
    • 1
    Email author
  • Claude Lefèbvre
    • 2
  • Stephan Raboyeau
    • 1
  • Anabelle Dossantos
    • 1
  • Wolf Gruber
    • 2
  • Jean Claude Cleyet Marel
    • 3
  • Helene Frérot
    • 4
  • Nausicaa Noret
    • 2
  • Stephanie Mahieu
    • 3
  • Christian Collin
    • 1
  • Folkert van Oort
    • 5
  1. 1.Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, UMR CNRS 5175Montpellier Cedex 05France
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’Ecologie végétale et de BiogéochimieUniversité Libre de BruxellesBruxellesBelgium
  3. 3.INRA, USC1242Laboratoire des Symbioses Tropicales et MéditerranéennesMontpellier Cedex 05France
  4. 4.Laboratoire de Génétique et Evolution des Populations Végétales, UMR CNRS 8016Villeneuve d’Ascq CedexFrance
  5. 5.INRAUR 251 Physicochimie et Ecotoxicologie des Sols d’Agrosystèmes Contaminés (Pessac), RD-10Versailles CedexFrance

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