Soil contamination with emissions of non-ferrous metallurgical plants

Research paper by Yu. N. Vodyanitskii, I. O. Plekhanova, E. V. Prokopovich, A. T. Savichev

Indexed on: 19 Feb '11Published on: 19 Feb '11Published in: Eurasian Soil Science


The upper soil horizons are strongly contaminated in the area influenced by the Mid-Urals copper smelter. In the technogenic desert and impact zones, the contents of a number of elements (Cu, Zn, As, Pb, P, and S) by many times exceed their clarke values and the maximum permissible concentrations (or provisional permissible concentrations). The degree of technogeneity (Tg) for these elements is very high in these zones. In the far buffer zone, Tg is about zero for many elements and increases up to Tg = 27–42% for four heavy elements (Cu, Zn, Pb, and As) and up to 81–98% for P and S. The buffer capacity of the humus horizon depends on the soil’s location within the technogeochemical anomaly and also on the particular pollutant. In the impact zone, it is equal to 70–77% for lead and arsenic, although other technogenic elements (Zn, Cr, S, and P) are poorly retained and readily migrate into the deeper horizons (the buffer capacity is equal to 14–25%). Nearly all the heavy metals enter the soil in the form of sulfides. The soils in the area affected by the Noril’sk mining and smelting metallurgical enterprise are subdivided into two groups according to the degree of their contamination, i.e., the soils within Noril’sk proper and the soils in its suburbs to a distance of 4–15 km. The strongest soil contamination is recorded in the city: the clarke values are exceeded by 287, 78, 16, 4.1, and 3.5 times for Cu, Ni, Cr, Fe, and S, respectively. The major pollutants enter the soil from the ferruginous slag. The soil’s contamination degree is lower in the suburbs, where heavy metal sulfides reach the soils with the aerial emission from the enterprise.