Distribution of potentially harmful elements in soils around a large coal-fired power plant
An understanding of the spatial distribution and contribution of a power plant to local soil contamination is important for the planning of soil use and prioritizing remedial actions for public safety. Consequently, the aim of this study was to map the spatial distribution of potentially hazardous elements (PHEs; Cu, Pb, Zn, Ni, Cr, Fe, Mn, Cd, As, and Se) in soils around a large (796 MW) coal-fired power plant in Brazil. For the purpose, 33 soil samples were collected in the area within a radius of approximately 17.5 km from the plant and subsequently analyzed for PHEs. The frequency and direction of winds were also obtained from a meteorological station in the region. The sampling area was divided into four quadrants (northwest: N-NW; northeast: N-NE; southeast: S-SE; southwest: S-SW), and there were significant negative correlations between the distance and the concentrations of Se in the S-SE quadrant and As in the S-SW and S-SE quadrants. There were positive correlations between distance from the plant and the concentration of Mn in the N-NE quadrant and the concentration of Cd in the S-SW quadrant. The dominant direction of the winds was N-NE. The indexes used in this study showed low-to-moderate enrichment factor, but detailed analysis of the dominant quadrant of the winds showed a correlation with higher concentrations in the soils closer to the power plant for at least seven of the PHEs analyzed, especially with regard to As. Therefore, we conclude that the distribution of the metalloid As can be used as a marker of the spatial distribution of contamination from the thermoelectric plant, but the dynamics of the other elements suggests that the presence of other sources of contamination may also compromise the quality of local soils.
KeywordsMetals Arsenic Soil contamination Coal region
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