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Title: Mercury emission and distribution: Potential environmental risks at a small-scale gold mining operation, Phichit Province, Thailand
Authors: Poranee Pataranawat
Preeda Parkpian
Chongrak Polprasert
R. D. Delaune
A. Jugsujinda
Mahidol University
Asian Institute of Technology Thailand
Louisiana State University
Keywords: Environmental Science
Issue Date: 1-Jan-2007
Citation: Journal of Environmental Science and Health - Part A Toxic/Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering. Vol.42, No.8 (2007), 1081-1093
Abstract: Mercury (Hg) contamination was assessed in environment near an amalgamation gold recovery operation located at a small scale mining operation (Phanom Pha) in Phichit Province, Thailand. Total mercury (THg) concentrations was determined in water, sediment, bivalves in the aquatic environment and as dry deposition or atmospheric fallout on surface soil and leaves of Neem tree (Azadirachta indica Juss. var. siamensis Valeton) near the mining operation. THg in surface soil, Neem flowers (edible part) and rice grain in surrounding terrestrial habitat and with distance from the mining area were also evaluated for possible contamination. Potential environmental risks were evaluated using the hazard quotient equation. Hg analyses conducted in the aquatic habitat showed that THg in water, sediment and bivalves (Scabies cripata Gould) ranged from 0.4 to 4 μ g L- 1, 96 to 402 μ g kg- 1dry weight (dw) and 15 to 584 μ g kg- 1 wet weight (ww), respectively. High concentrations of THg in water, sediment and bivalves were observed in the receiving stream near the mining operation which was located near the Khao Chet Luk Reservoir. Whereas the THg concentration in water, sediment and bivalves from monitoring stations outside the gold mining operation (upstream and downstream), were considerably lower with the values of 0.4-0.8 μ g L- 1, 96-140 μ g kg- 1 dw and 88-658 μ g kg- 1 dw, respectively. The elevated concentration of Hg found in the sediment near the mining operation was consistent with Hg accumulation measured in bivalves. The elevated Hg levels found in living bivalves collected from highly contaminated sites suggested that the sediment bound Hg was bioavailable. THg in surface soils, brown rice grain (Jasmine rice #105) and Neem flowers of terrestrial habitats were in the range of 16 to 180 μ g kg- 1 dw, 190 to 300 μ g kg- 1 dw, and 622 to 2150 μ g kg- 1 dw, respectively. Elevated concentrations of mercury were found in Neem flowers with the concentration greater than 600 μ g kg- 1 ww, which exceeds the maximum permissible concentration reported for biota tissue (500 μ g kg- 1 ww). An evaluation of air and soil pollution near the mining operations showed high concentrations of THg in dry deposit from atmospheric fallout (139 μ g m- 2 d- 1), and in surface soil (10,564 μ g kg- 1 dw) at station near where open burning of gold ore extracts using the amalgamation process occurred. High or elevated concentration of THg (1172-1301 μ g kg- 1 dw) in leaves of Neem tree was also measured near the mining operations. A survey of Hg in surface soil showed elevated Hg concentrations near the site which corresponded to the elevated THg concentration in dry deposition. These results suggested that atmospheric fallout is a major source of Hg to the area surrounding the mining or gold ore extraction. Results also suggest that Hg emitted into the air (estimated to be 60-150 g d- 1) from the gold mining activities (over the past 10 years) contaminated air, the aquatic environment, surface soil and biota in the area surrounding the gold mining operation. Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
ISSN: 15324117
Appears in Collections:Scopus 2006-2010

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