Investigation of pollution coming from copper, lead, and zinc mining, and factors controlling mobility and bioavailability of pollutants at Ecton Hill, Staffordshire, UK
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AuthorsAl-Ibrahim, Zahid Omar Mustafa
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractFormer mining areas are well-known globally to be a significant anthropogenic source of contaminants being dispersed into the surrounding environment. Various human activities, including ore mineral mining, industrial activities, domestic waste production, and the agricultural application of fertilisers and pesticides, are likely to contribute to the release of huge amounts of potentially toxic metals into the ecosystem, which have harmful effects on the flora and fauna and on human health. Therefore, the main aim of this study is to evaluate the contamination that arises from some selected heavy metals (Cu, Pb, Zn, Mn, Cr, Ni, and V) in topsoil and floodplain samples from the Ecton mining area. Ecton Hill is located in the southern part of the Peak District, Staffordshire, England, and bounded by the River Manifold from the west. This area has been mined for sulphide minerals, which were extracted extensively from the 16th century until the mid-19th century; the area is currently being used for cattle rearing and agricultural purposes. Therefore, it would be worth finding out the extent to which the area has been polluted by the aforementioned metals. To this end, topsoil and floodplain samples were collected and analysed for their total concentrations using XRF technique and different granulometric classes (i.e. clay, silt, and sand) using a (Malvern Mastersizer Long Bed) laser granulometer with a presentation unit of MS-17. In addition, soil specific factors, including organic matter content, organic carbon, pH, Eh, and cation exchange capacity were also measured. Spatial distribution maps were constructed using a GIS approach for the metals studied over the study area. Contamination and ecological risk assessments were carried out via the geoaccumulation index (Igeo) and enrichment factors (EF) respectively. Moreover, collected soils for different land uses have been assessed using the UK government soil guidelines (i.e. ICRCL and CLEA’s SGVs soil values). Furthermore, the bioavailability, leachability, and fractionation (using five-steps sequential extraction) of the metals in various soil phases were characterised using correlation matrix and principal component analysis (PCA) approaches. The GIS- based spatial analysis maps reveal that elevated concentrations of the metals are located around the sites of the mining waste in the area. The contamination assessment results indicate that Cu, Pb, Zn have a contamination degree ranging between strongly contaminated (class 4) and extremely contaminated (class 6). The results of the ecological assessment by enrichment factor (EF) show that Pb has the highest enrichment factor. The bioavailability results of the heavy metals under study, via EDTA, show that Cu, Pb, Zn have the highest bioavailable fractions. The regression analysis demonstrates that Mn gives the best fit regression equation with the highest R2 value of 0.825. The leachability results reveal that, of the seven heavy metals, Zn has the highest leachable value, whereas the lowest leachable was recorded for Cr. Speciation was measured using the five-steps procedure, and the results show that Cu, Pb and Zn are mainly associated with the organic matter fraction, whilst, Cr, Ni and V are associated with the residual fraction. The principal component analysis (PCA) revealed that oxides of Fe/Al, organic matter, and the clay and silt fractions are the main soil parameters responsible for binding heavy metals to the soil surfaces of the study area. Changing the redox potential conditions and acidification was investigated and the results indicate that such changes have significant effects on the release of heavy metals from the soil particles at Ecton Hill.
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.