Potentially toxic elements in urban topsoils and health risk assessment for the mining W–Mo center in the Baikal region

  • Ivan TimofeevEmail author
  • Natalia Shartova
  • Natalia Kosheleva
  • Nikolay Kasimov
Original Paper


The main threats to health are associated with the entry of potentially toxic elements (PTEs) into human bodies. The aim of this study is to assess the impact of the Zakamensk W–Mo deposit development on soil surface horizons and the health of the local population. The results of the geochemical survey of 2012 revealed the spatial distribution patterns and abundances of 15 PTEs. The elements bulk contents were determined by ICP-MS and ICP-AES. The impact of geochemical situation on the health of the population of Zakamensk was also assessed using the mortality rates from diseases of the digestive and respiratory organs, neoplasms, including malignant tumors of the digestive and respiratory organs in 2008–2012. The tailing dumps have increased concentrations of W, Cd, Pb, Sb, Mo, Cu, Zn, Sn, As, and Co due to petrochemical characteristics of the ore. The soils of the industrial zone accumulate W, Cd, Mo, Pb, Sb, Zn, Cu, and Sn due to the waste storage sites deterioration and the thermal power plant and the foundry emissions. The multi-story residential zone soils accumulate W, Cd, Pb, Zn, and Mo. Tungsten, Pb, Sb, Co, V, and Cr cause the greatest harm to adults and children and together account for 92–96% of the hazard index. Cadmium and Cr are the most dangerous carcinogenic elements in Zakamensk. Despite the closure of DTMP more than 15 years ago, the level of the total risk of developing malignant diseases indicates a catastrophic environmental situation.


Health risk assessment Pollution assessment Potentially toxic elements Environmental geochemistry Mining centers 



This study was performed within the framework of the project supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research and the Russian Geographical Society (Project No. 17-29-05055).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Landscape Geochemistry and Soil Geography, Faculty of GeographyLomonosov Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia

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