The impact of unconfined mine tailings in residential areas from a mining town in a semi-arid environment: Nacozari, Sonora, México

Diana María Meza Figueroa, Agustín Gómez Álvarez, Raina M. Maier, Margarita De La O Villanueva, Alan Moreno-Zazueta, Jacinto Rivera, Alberto Campillo, Christopher J. Grandlic, Ricardo Anaya, Juan José Palafox Reyes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

72 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Past mining activities in northern Mexico left a legacy of delerict landscapes devoid of vegetation and seasonal formation of salt efflorescence. Metal content was measured in mine tailings, efflorescent salts, soils, road dust, and residential soils to investigate contamination. Climatic effects such as heavy wind and rainfall events can have great impact on the dispersion of metals in semi-arid areas, since soils are typically sparsely vegetated. Geochemical analysis of this site revealed that even though total metal content in mine tailings was relatively low (e.g. Cu= 1000 mg kg(-1)), metals including Mn, Ba, Zn, and Cu were all found at significantly higher levels in efflorescence salts formed by evaporation on the tailings impoundment surface following the rainy season (e.g. Cu= 68,000 mg kg(-1)). Such efflorescent fine-grained salts are susceptible to wind erosion resulting in increased metal spread to nearby residential soils. Our results highlight the importance of seasonally dependent salt-formation and wind erosion in determining risk levels associated with potential inhalation or ingestion of airborne particulates originating from contaminated sites such as tailings impoundments. In low metal-content mine tailings located in arid and semi-arid environments, efflorescence salts could represent a human health risk and a challenge for plant establishment in mine tailings.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)140-147
Number of pages8
JournalChemosphere
Volume77
Issue number1e
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2009

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Tailings
arid environment
tailings
Efflorescence
Salts
Metals
salt
metal
Soil
Soils
wind erosion
impoundment
Erosion
soil
Health risks
Mexico
Dust
health risk
Inhalation
Rain

Cite this

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title = "The impact of unconfined mine tailings in residential areas from a mining town in a semi-arid environment: Nacozari, Sonora, M{\'e}xico",
abstract = "Past mining activities in northern Mexico left a legacy of delerict landscapes devoid of vegetation and seasonal formation of salt efflorescence. Metal content was measured in mine tailings, efflorescent salts, soils, road dust, and residential soils to investigate contamination. Climatic effects such as heavy wind and rainfall events can have great impact on the dispersion of metals in semi-arid areas, since soils are typically sparsely vegetated. Geochemical analysis of this site revealed that even though total metal content in mine tailings was relatively low (e.g. Cu= 1000 mg kg(-1)), metals including Mn, Ba, Zn, and Cu were all found at significantly higher levels in efflorescence salts formed by evaporation on the tailings impoundment surface following the rainy season (e.g. Cu= 68,000 mg kg(-1)). Such efflorescent fine-grained salts are susceptible to wind erosion resulting in increased metal spread to nearby residential soils. Our results highlight the importance of seasonally dependent salt-formation and wind erosion in determining risk levels associated with potential inhalation or ingestion of airborne particulates originating from contaminated sites such as tailings impoundments. In low metal-content mine tailings located in arid and semi-arid environments, efflorescence salts could represent a human health risk and a challenge for plant establishment in mine tailings.",
author = "{Meza Figueroa}, {Diana Mar{\'i}a} and {G{\'o}mez {\'A}lvarez}, Agust{\'i}n and Maier, {Raina M.} and {De La O Villanueva}, Margarita and Alan Moreno-Zazueta and Jacinto Rivera and Alberto Campillo and Grandlic, {Christopher J.} and Ricardo Anaya and {Palafox Reyes}, {Juan Jos{\'e}}",
year = "2009",
month = "9",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1016/j.chemosphere.2009.04.068",
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The impact of unconfined mine tailings in residential areas from a mining town in a semi-arid environment: Nacozari, Sonora, México. / Meza Figueroa, Diana María; Gómez Álvarez, Agustín; Maier, Raina M.; De La O Villanueva, Margarita; Moreno-Zazueta, Alan; Rivera, Jacinto; Campillo, Alberto; Grandlic, Christopher J.; Anaya, Ricardo; Palafox Reyes, Juan José.

In: Chemosphere, Vol. 77, No. 1e, 01.09.2009, p. 140-147.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - The impact of unconfined mine tailings in residential areas from a mining town in a semi-arid environment: Nacozari, Sonora, México

AU - Meza Figueroa, Diana María

AU - Gómez Álvarez, Agustín

AU - Maier, Raina M.

AU - De La O Villanueva, Margarita

AU - Moreno-Zazueta, Alan

AU - Rivera, Jacinto

AU - Campillo, Alberto

AU - Grandlic, Christopher J.

AU - Anaya, Ricardo

AU - Palafox Reyes, Juan José

PY - 2009/9/1

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N2 - Past mining activities in northern Mexico left a legacy of delerict landscapes devoid of vegetation and seasonal formation of salt efflorescence. Metal content was measured in mine tailings, efflorescent salts, soils, road dust, and residential soils to investigate contamination. Climatic effects such as heavy wind and rainfall events can have great impact on the dispersion of metals in semi-arid areas, since soils are typically sparsely vegetated. Geochemical analysis of this site revealed that even though total metal content in mine tailings was relatively low (e.g. Cu= 1000 mg kg(-1)), metals including Mn, Ba, Zn, and Cu were all found at significantly higher levels in efflorescence salts formed by evaporation on the tailings impoundment surface following the rainy season (e.g. Cu= 68,000 mg kg(-1)). Such efflorescent fine-grained salts are susceptible to wind erosion resulting in increased metal spread to nearby residential soils. Our results highlight the importance of seasonally dependent salt-formation and wind erosion in determining risk levels associated with potential inhalation or ingestion of airborne particulates originating from contaminated sites such as tailings impoundments. In low metal-content mine tailings located in arid and semi-arid environments, efflorescence salts could represent a human health risk and a challenge for plant establishment in mine tailings.

AB - Past mining activities in northern Mexico left a legacy of delerict landscapes devoid of vegetation and seasonal formation of salt efflorescence. Metal content was measured in mine tailings, efflorescent salts, soils, road dust, and residential soils to investigate contamination. Climatic effects such as heavy wind and rainfall events can have great impact on the dispersion of metals in semi-arid areas, since soils are typically sparsely vegetated. Geochemical analysis of this site revealed that even though total metal content in mine tailings was relatively low (e.g. Cu= 1000 mg kg(-1)), metals including Mn, Ba, Zn, and Cu were all found at significantly higher levels in efflorescence salts formed by evaporation on the tailings impoundment surface following the rainy season (e.g. Cu= 68,000 mg kg(-1)). Such efflorescent fine-grained salts are susceptible to wind erosion resulting in increased metal spread to nearby residential soils. Our results highlight the importance of seasonally dependent salt-formation and wind erosion in determining risk levels associated with potential inhalation or ingestion of airborne particulates originating from contaminated sites such as tailings impoundments. In low metal-content mine tailings located in arid and semi-arid environments, efflorescence salts could represent a human health risk and a challenge for plant establishment in mine tailings.

U2 - 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2009.04.068

DO - 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2009.04.068

M3 - Article

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JO - Chemosphere

JF - Chemosphere

SN - 0045-6535

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