Toxic metal(loid)s contamination and potential human health risk assessment in the vicinity of century-old copper smelter, Karabash, Russia

  • Adarsh Kumar
  • TriptiEmail author
  • Maria Maleva
  • Irina Kiseleva
  • Subodh Kumar Maiti
  • Maria Morozova
Original Paper


Active smelters release high concentration of multiple toxic metal(loid)s into the environment, degrading the soil cover and posing high risks to human health. The present study investigates Cu along with other metal(loids) such as As, Cd, Hg, Co, Mn, Pb and Zn in the soil collected from the vicinity of Cu smelter, Karabash, Russia, and potential health risks to local children and adults were assessed. The average concentrations of Cu, Zn, Pb, As, Cd, and Hg in the exposed soil were 2698, 1050, 702, 392, 9 and 2 mg kg−1, respectively, which was significantly (p < 0.05) much higher than reference soil: Cu(107), As(18), Cd(0.3), Hg(0.2), Pb(54) and Zn(125) mg kg−1. The enrichment factor (EF) for Cu, Hg, Pb and Zn showed significant enrichment, whereas very high enrichment was recorded for As (20.0) and Cd (27.6) suggesting the soil was severely affected by smelting activities. The pollution load index was tenfold higher than the acceptable level of one, whereas potential ecological risk factor showed very high potential risks of Cd and Hg, along with a considerable ecological risk of As and Cu. Very high ecological risk index of 1810 indicates severe degradation of environmental ecosystem. The results of EF, Pearson correlation and principle component analysis were complementary and suggest the anthropogenic source of contamination for Cu, As, Pb, Hg and Cd. The present result suggests As > Pb > Cu in the exposed soil were the major contributors for the health risks and account for 81%, 12% and 5%, and 77%, 12% and 8% of hazard quotient for children and adults, respectively. Noticeably, the health risks to local children dwelling in the vicinity of Cu smelter were 12 and 20 times higher than to adult and the acceptable level of one, respectively. Therefore, in order to reduce the health risk due to metal(loid)s, mitigation measures are needed to remediate the pollution of the exposed soil.


Toxic metals Enrichment factor Contamination factor Soil pollution Ecological risk 



The work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation (Agreement No. 02.A03.21.0006).

Supplementary material

10653_2019_414_MOESM1_ESM.docx (30 kb)
Supplementary file1 (DOCX 30 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adarsh Kumar
    • 1
  • Tripti
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maria Maleva
    • 1
  • Irina Kiseleva
    • 1
  • Subodh Kumar Maiti
    • 2
  • Maria Morozova
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Experimental Biology and Biotechnology, Institute of Natural Sciences and MathematicsUral Federal UniversityEkaterinburgRussia
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science and Engineering, Center of Mining EnvironmentIndian Institute of Technology (ISM)DhanbadIndia
  3. 3.Department of Analytical and Environmental Chemistry, Institute of Natural Sciences and MathematicsUral Federal UniversityEkaterinburgRussia

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