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Assessment of potentially toxic element contamination in soils from Portman Bay (SE, Spain)



The present study deals with the geochemical fractions of Pb, Cd, Zn, Cu and As present on profiles using chemical simple extraction process. This work was conducted on Portman Bay, located in the SE Spain and strongly affected by mining activities.

Materials and methods

Four simple extractions were applied to selected samples in order to evaluate the potential mobility of metals. X-ray diffraction (XRD) was applied to the characterisation of samples and the residues remaining after each extraction, providing additional information about the sediment phases carrying the elements studied.

Results and discussion

The results obtained after the extractions suggested that the highest potentially toxic element (PTE) content was obtained in the oxidising medium. The mineralogical composition is an important factor that should be taken into account in the evaluation of PTE mobility, firstly because the mineral phases react differently in the proposed situations depending on their chemical nature, and secondly, because the presence of a particular phase depends on the degree of weathering.


The evaluation of PTE mobility and mineralogical composition under different environmental conditions may be very important in the execution of restoration projects which could involve dredging and mobilisation of materials.

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Correspondence to Carmen Pérez-Sirvent.

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Responsible editor: Claudio Bini

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Pérez-Sirvent, C., García-Lorenzo, M.L., Hernández-Pérez, C. et al. Assessment of potentially toxic element contamination in soils from Portman Bay (SE, Spain). J Soils Sediments 18, 2248–2258 (2018).

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  • Environmental risk
  • Geochemical fractions
  • Potentially toxic elements
  • Selective chemical extraction