Journal of Ecology and Rural Environment ›› 2020, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (5): 679-688.doi: 10.19741/j.issn.1673-4831.2019.0464

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Distribution Characteristics and Pollution Evaluation of Heavy Metals in an Extremely Cold and High-altitude Mining Area in Xinjiang

YUAN Cheng-yu1, LI Fa-yong1, YUAN Zi-qiang2, HU Xue-fei1, YOU Yong-jun1, WANG Shan1, LI Guo-yu2   

  1. 1. College of Water Resources and Architectural Engineering, Tarim University, Alaer 843300, China;
    2. Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • Received:2019-06-19 Online:2020-05-25 Published:2020-05-23

Abstract: To evaluate the impact of mining activity on heavy metals in a high-altitude freezing and thawing area in Xinjiang, soil, water and sediment at different sampling points were systematically evaluated. The results show that the average heavy-metal contents in the mining area were higher than that of the background of Xinjiang area and showed an accumulation trend in the soil. As, Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn are the main heavy-metal pollutants caused by the mining activities. In general, the concentration of As and Cd gradually decreased as the elevation increased, while other elements generally showed gradual increasing trends; heavy metals were also accumulated in the tailings area. Results show that the enrichment of As, Cd, and Cu was mainly derived from mining activities, while the accumulation of Pb and Zn was mainly affected by the element dissolution of the tailings and emissions from the construction vehicles. The surface water quality in the assessment area was adequate and no heavy metal elements exceeded the standard. As, Pb and Cd were not accumulated in the sediment, but Zn, Cu, Ni and Cr were enriched. The Potential Ecological Risk Index (RI) and the Ground Accumulation Index analysis of the heavy-metal sediment indicate that some points of the tailing area of the mining area were moderately polluted and the heavy-metal contamination in the sediments was generally higher than that in the soil. Furthering the study on the migration and transformation of heavy-metal elements and environmental threshold in high-altitude and freezing mining areas can be significant in finding suitable ecological restoration measures.

Key words: heavy metal, altitude, soil, waterbody, sediment

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