Environmental Chemistry Letters

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 637–645 | Cite as

Unexpected behavior of Zn, Cd, Cu, and Pb in soils contaminated by ore processing after 70 years of burial

  • Petr S. Fedotov
  • Rustam Kh. Dzhenloda
  • Bayarma V. Dampilova
  • Svetlana G. Doroshkevich
  • Vasily K. Karandashev
Original Paper


Heavy metals in contaminated ore processing areas present a risk of contamination of waters and life. Therefore, the most mobile fractions of metals, which can be  evaluated by chemical extraction, require a special research attention. Classical reports using batchwise extraction methods are debatable in terms of real metal availability because naturally occurring processes are always dynamic. Therefore, here we used dynamic extraction in a rotating coiled column in order to mimic natural conditions. We studied Cu, Pb, Zn, and Cd in soils and sand wastes from a tungsten–molybdenum plant. Soils had been buried under tailing dumps during 70 years. Exchangeable and acid-soluble fractions were separated using 0.05 M Ca(NO3)2 and 0.43 M CH3COOH, respectively. Results show that mobility, availability, and vertical transport of metals are surprisingly different. Specifically, there is nearly no mobile exchangeable Zn in wastes, whereas all studied soil horizons are characterized by elevated Zn concentrations, up to 0.6 g/kg. Cd behaves like Zn. The concentration and mobility of Cu vary with depth. The upper humus horizon contains up to 2.1 g/kg of exchangeable Cu. The behavior of Pb is quite particular:  soils are nearly free from lead, though its total concentration in wastes may reach 3.9 g/kg. To the best of our knowledge, such unusual variations in the behavior of heavy metals have not been reported before.


Historically contaminated soil Ore enrichment wastes Heavy metals Exposure assessment Dynamic extraction Bioaccessibility 



The work was supported by the Russian Science Foundation, project No. 16-13-10417 (dynamic extraction, exposure assessment of heavy metals) and the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, Projects No. 16-05-01041 (sampling and morphological description of collected samples) and No. 17-03-00207 (characterization and analysis of bulk samples). The equipment was purchased and maintained with the support of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (Program of Increasing Competitiveness of NUST “MISiS,” Projects No. К1-2014-026, No. К2-2016-070). The authors are indebted to Dr. Natalia Fedyunina (NUST “MISiS”) for her kind assistance in ICP-MS analysis of extractable fractions.


  1. Antoniadis V, McKinley JD (2003) Measuring heavy metal migration rates in a low-permeability soil. Environ Chem Lett 1:103–106. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Doroshkevich SG, Smirnova OK, Dampilova BV, Gaidashev VV (2016) Assessment of soil and vegetation condition in Zakamensk town (Buryatia): the consequences of operating Dzhida tungsten–molybdenum plant. Geoecol Eng Geol Hydrogeol Geocryol 5:427–441Google Scholar
  3. Fedotov PS (2014) Estimating the bioavailability of trace metals/metalloids and persistent organic substances in terrestrial environments: challenges and need for multidisciplinary approaches. Pure Appl Chem 86:1085–1095. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Fedotov PS, Miró M (2007) Fractionation and mobility of trace elements in soils and sediments. Biophysico-chemical processes of heavy metals and metalloids in soil environments. Wiley, Hoboken, pp 467–520CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Fedotov PS, Savonina EY, Wennrich R, Ladonin DV (2007) Studies on trace and major elements association in soils using continuous-flow leaching in rotating coiled columns. Geoderma 142:58–68. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fedotov PS, Kördel W, Miró M et al (2012) Extraction and fractionation methods for exposure assessment of trace metals, metalloids, and hazardous organic compounds in terrestrial environments. Crit Rev Environ Sci Technol 42:1117–1171. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fedotov PS, Ermolin MS, Karandashev VK, Ladonin DV (2014) Characterization of size, morphology and elemental composition of nano-, submicron, and micron particles of street dust separated using field-flow fractionation in a rotating coiled column. Talanta 130:1–7. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fedotov PS, Ermolin MS, Ivaneev AI et al (2016) Continuous-flow leaching in a rotating coiled column for studies on the mobility of toxic elements in dust samples collected near a metallurgic plant. Chemosphere 146:371–378. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hu X, Yuan X, Dong L (2014) Coal fly ash and straw immobilize Cu, Cd and Zn from mining wasteland. Environ Chem Lett 12:289–295. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Karandashev VK, Turanov AN, Orlova TA et al (2008) Use of the inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry for element analysis of environmental objects. Inorg Mater 44:1491–1500. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lin W, Xiao T, Zhou W, Ning Z (2015) Pb, Zn, and Cd distribution and migration at a historical zinc smelting site. Pol J Environ Stud. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. McIlwaine R, Doherty R, Cox SF, Cave M (2017) The relationship between historical development and potentially toxic element concentrations in urban soils. Environ Pollut 220:1036–1049. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Miro M, Hansen E, Chomchoei R, Frenzel W (2005) Dynamic flow-through approaches for metal fractionation in environmentally relevant solid samples. TrAC Trends Anal Chem 24:759–771. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ospina-Alvarez N, Głaz Ł, Dmowski K, Krasnodębska-Ostręga B (2014) Mobility of toxic elements in carbonate sediments from a mining area in Poland. Environ Chem Lett 12:435–441. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Peijnenburg WJGM, Zablotskaja M, Vijver MG (2007) Monitoring metals in terrestrial environments within a bioavailability framework and a focus on soil extraction. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 67:163–179. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Rosende M, Savonina EY, Fedotov PS et al (2009) Dynamic fractionation of trace metals in soil and sediment samples using rotating coiled column extraction and sequential injection microcolumn extraction: a comparative study. Talanta 79:1081–1088. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Rosende M, Beesley L, Moreno-Jimenez E, Miró M (2016) Automatic flow-through dynamic extraction: a fast tool to evaluate char-based remediation of multi-element contaminated mine soils. Talanta 148:686–693. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Savonina EY, Fedotov PS, Wennrich R (2012a) Fractionation of Sb and As in soil and sludge samples using different continuous-flow extraction techniques. Anal Bioanal Chem 403:1441–1449. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Savonina EY, Fedotov PS, Wennrich R (2012b) Continuous-flow fractionation of selenium in contaminated sediment and soil samples using rotating coiled column and microcolumn extraction. Talanta 88:369–374. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Templeton DM, Ariese F, Cornelis R et al (2000) Guidelines for terms related to chemical speciation and fractionation of elements. Definitions, structural aspects, and methodological approaches (IUPAC Recommendations 2000). Pure Appl Chem 72:1453–1470. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Zhang J, Wang S, Wang Q et al (2013) First determination of Cu adsorption on soil humin. Environ Chem Lett 11:41–46. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National University of Science and Technology “MISiS”MoscowRussia
  2. 2.Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical ChemistryRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Geological Institute Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of SciencesUlan-UdeRussia
  4. 4.The Institute of Microelectronics Technology and High-Purity MaterialsRussian Academy of SciencesChernogolovkaRussia

Personalised recommendations