Metal contamination in environmental media in residential areas around Romanian mining sites
Neamtiu, I., S. Al-Abed, J. McKernan, C. Baciu, E. Gurzau, A. Pogacean, AND S. Bessler. Metal contamination in environmental media in residential areas around Romanian mining sites. David O. Carpenter, and Peter Sly (ed.), REVIEWS ON ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH. Freund Publishing House Limited, Tel Aviv, Israel, 31(4):1-6, (2016).
The manuscript provides insight into the public health importance and impact of contamination associated with historic mining operations. The authors present a summary of available data for a historic, heavily contaminated mining area that will be of interest to those in the environmental science and public health community interested in the long-term environmental impacts of mining operations.
Hard-rock mining for metals, such as gold, silver, copper, zinc, iron and others, is recognized to have a significant impact on the environmental media, soil and water, in particular. Toxic contaminants released from mine waste to surface water and groundwater is the primary concern, but human exposure to soil contaminants either directly, via inhalation of airborne dust particles, or indirectly, via food chain (ingestion of animal products and/or vegetables grown in contaminated areas), is also, significant. In this research, we analyzed data collected in 2007, as part of a larger environmental study performed in the Rosia Montana area in Transylvania, to provide the Romanian governmental authorities with data on the levels of metal contamination in environmental media from this historical mining area. The data were also considered in policy decision to address mining-related environmental concerns in the area. We examined soil and water data collected from residential areas near the mining sites to determine relationships among metals analyzed in these different environmental media, using the correlation procedure in SAS statistical software. Results for residential soil and water analysis indicate that the average values for arsenic (As) (85 mg/kg), cadmium (Cd) (3.2 mg/kg), mercury (Hg) (2.3 mg/kg) and lead (Pb) (92 mg/kg) exceeded the Romanian regulatory exposure levels [the intervention thresholds for residential soil in case of As (25 mg/kg) and Hg (2 mg/kg), and the alert thresholds in case of Pb (50 mg/kg) and Cd (3 mg/kg)]. Average metal concentrations in drinking water did not exceed the maximum contaminant level (MCL) imposed by the Romanian legislation, but high metal concentrations were found in surface water from Rosia creek, downstream from the former mining area.