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Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 563–581 | Cite as

Lead in Chinese coals: distribution, modes of occurrence, and environmental effects

  • Ting Fang
  • Guijian Liu
  • Chuncai Zhou
  • Ruoyu Sun
  • Jian Chen
  • Dun Wu
Article

Abstract

Lead (Pb) has gained much attention since the 1970s because of its potential and cumulative toxicity. As one of the most hazardous elements in coals, Pb can be released into the environment during coal mining, processing, and utilization. This study presents a synthesis on the abundance, distribution, modes of occurrence, and environmental impacts of Pb in Chinese coals. Using the expected coal reserves as the weighting factor and based on the previously published Pb content in 4,304 coal samples (including results obtained in our laboratory) from main coalfields or coal mines in China, the weighted mean Pb content in Chinese coals is 13.0 μg/g, which is higher than that of the American coals (11 μg/g) and average world coals (7.8 μg/g). With respect to regional distribution of Pb in Chinese coals, Pb content can be arbitrarily divided into three groups (<20, 20–40, >40 μg/g). Following this classification, coals from Tibet have the highest average Pb content (128.94 μg/g). The abundance of Pb in coals varies with coal-forming periods and coal ranks, with the late Triassic and higher rank coals having the highest Pb content, which could be ascribed to regional geochemical differences and later geological evolution as well as magma hydrothermal activities. The enrichment of Pb in coals is influenced by several geological factors, including coal-forming plants, source rocks, hydrothermal fluid, and depositional environment. Pb, dominantly associates with sulfide minerals, especially galena in coals. During coal combustion or pyrolysis, Pb is partly emitted into the atmosphere and partly partitioned to solid residues. Accumulation of Pb from coal utilization in human body could lead to a range of health problems and increase the risk of cancer.

Keywords

Lead Abundance Distribution Modes of occurrence Environmental impacts Chinese coals 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program, 2014CB238903), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41173032 and 41373110), National Science and Technology Support Program (2012BAC10B02), Key Program for Science and Technology Development of Anhui Province (No. 12010402111 and 11010401015), and the Creative Project of the Huainan Mining Industry (Group) Co. Ltd. We acknowledge editors and reviewers for polishing the language of the paper and for in-depth discussion.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ting Fang
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Guijian Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chuncai Zhou
    • 1
  • Ruoyu Sun
    • 1
  • Jian Chen
    • 1
  • Dun Wu
    • 1
  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory of Crust-Mantle Materials and Environment, School of Earth and Space SciencesUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth EnvironmentThe Chinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  3. 3.University of Science and Technology of China, City University of Hong Kong Joint Advanced Research CentreSuzhouChina

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