Regional distribution characteristics and ecological risk assessment of heavy metal pollution of different land use in an antimony mining area – Xikuangshan, China

Zhi-e Tang, Ren-Jian Deng, Jun Zhang, Bo-Zhi Ren, Andrew Hursthouse

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Mining activities have introduced various heavy metals and metalloids to surrounding soil environments, causing adverse impacts to the ecological environment system. The extremely high concentration of various heavy metals and metalloids make the Xikuangshan (Hunan, China) an excellent model to assess their ecological risk. In this study, the soil samples from 26 locations of different land use methods in four areas (smelting area, road nearby ore, mining area, and ore tailing area) in Xikuangshan with different levels of various heavy metals and metalloids (Sb, As, Pb, and Cd) were analyzed; in addition, the index of geo-accumulation and the potential ecological risk index were used to evaluate ecological risk. The results showed that the average contents of Sb, As, Pb, and Cd in all soil samples were 4368.222, 40.722, 248.013, and 40.941, respectively, implying serious contamination of compound pollution of heavy metals in soil. The concentration of heavy metals in soil among smelting area, road nearby ore, mining area, and ore tailing area showed significant distribution characteristics of region because different mining activities such as smelting, mining, transportation, and stacking caused different pollution intensity. Moreover, the contents of Sb in soil samples decreased successively in residue field, wasteland, forestland, sediment, grassland, and vegetable field, and the contents of Sb in vegetable-field and ecological restoration grassland were relatively low, which indicate that the method of grassland ecological restoration is an effective method to control antimony pollution in soil. The results of ecological risk assessment showed that the antimony mining area was seriously polluted by Sb, As, Pb, and Cd, and had strong ecological risk, and Sb and Cd were the most important pollution factors, which indicated that the pollution of Sb and Cd should be a major concern of relevant departments of environment and health.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman & Ecological Risk Assessment
Early online date19 Jun 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes



  • Xikuangshan
  • Ecological risk
  • Heavy metal
  • Regional characteristics

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