Heavy metal pollution and ecological risk assessment of tailings in the Qinglong Dachang antimony mine, China

Abstract

The pollution of heavy metals and their harm to human health and the ecological environment have caused widespread concern. In this research, we collected Qinglong antimony mine tailings (8-meter deep) and then analyzed the content changes, geochemical behavior, and ecological risk assessment of 7 heavy metals (Sb, As, Cr, Cd, Cu, Zn, Pb) in the tailing profile, providing a theoretical basis for strengthening the source control and risk control of heavy metals. In addition, the chemical forms of Sb and As were analyzed, and the relationship between their forms and their physical and chemical properties was analyzed by redundancy analysis (RDA). The results showed that the concentrations of Sb (671.97–13896.62 mg/kg), As (287.38–657.36 mg/kg), Cu (27.61–74.48 mg/kg), and Cd (0.49–1.76 mg/kg) in the tailings greatly exceeded their background values, those of Pb (15.67–125.74 mg/kg) and Cr (22.69–185.88 mg/kg) moderately exceed their background values, while that of Zn (41.66–94.48 mg/kg) was slightly below its background value. Among the chemical forms of Sb and As, the residual fraction (F4) had the highest concentration. RDA showed that the pH and tailing particle size were significantly correlated with the chemical species content of Sb and As (p < 0.05). The improved Igeo analysis showed that the tailings were extremely polluted with Sb; highly polluted with As; uncontaminated to moderately polluted with Cd, Cu, and Pb; and uncontaminated with Zn and Cr, and the average Igeo values were in the following order: Sb >As > Pb > Cd > Cu > Zn > Cr. The potential environmental risk index showed that Sb and As imposed a serious risk and Cr, Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn imposed a low risk, which was basically consistent with the results of the improved Igeo values. This research provides comprehensive theoretical approaches to better understand the source control and risk control of heavy metals in tailing ponds.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to acknowledge the editors and there viewers for their valuable comments and suggestions on the manuscript. This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (2018YFC1801705), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (U1612442), and the Guizhou Talent Base Project (RCJD2018-21).

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The authors declare that [the/all other] data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article [and its supplementary information files].

Funding

This research has been supported by National Key R&D Program of China (Grant No. 2018YFC1801705) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant U1612442), and the Guizhou Talent Base Project (RCJD2018-21).

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. The first draft of the manuscript and the drawing of the diagram were completed by Guangfei Luo and all authors commented on the previous versions of the manuscript. Manuscript writing guidance, the first draft revision was completed by the corresponding author Professor Zhiwei Han. Experimental operation, data collation, and sample collection were performed by Jia Xiong, Yingpin He, and Jiahao Liao. This research was funded by Professor Pan Wu, the host of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant U1612442), and guided the writing of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Zhiwei Han.

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Luo, G., Han, Z., Xiong, J. et al. Heavy metal pollution and ecological risk assessment of tailings in the Qinglong Dachang antimony mine, China. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-021-12987-7

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Keywords

  • Heavy metals
  • Antimony Mine
  • Tailing dumps
  • Ecological risk