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Environmental and Human Health Risk Assessment of Sulfidic Mine Waste: Bioaccessibility, Leaching and Mineralogy
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
Sulfidic mine waste can pose environmental and human health risks, especially when it contains high levels of mobile metal(loid)s. To assess the environmental and health risks of mine waste originating from three historic and active sulfidic Pb-, Zn- and/or Cu-mines in Europe, mineralogical and chemical characterizations were conducted in combination with in vitro bioaccessibility tests, sequential extractions and leaching tests. Results indicated that most samples contained highly elevated levels of metal(loid)s and key minerals consisting of pyrite, sphalerite and cerussite. The orally bioaccessible fraction varied amongst samples: Cd (13-100%), Zn (9-69%), Pb (4-67%), Cu (8-41%) and As (1-11%). Given these bioaccessible levels, the human health risk assessment indicated carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks for most investigated samples in a worst-case exposure scenario. The leaching tests revealed the high mobility of metal(loid)s, especially Pb, posing potential environmental risks. The sequential extractions coupled with mineralogical analyses highlighted the highly mobile levels of Cd, Pb and Zn, posing environmental and health risks. Cerussite dissolved in the easily exchangeable fraction, releasing elevated levels of Pb, while pyrite never completely dissolved. In conclusion, the studied wastes pose environmental and health risks; the high mobility of some elements provides opportunities for the valorization of the waste.
Journal: Journal of Hazardous Materials
Issue: Pt A
Pages: 1 - 15