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Candeias C.,University of Aveiro | Melo R.,University of Aveiro | Avila P.F.,National Laboratory of Energy and Geology | Ferreira da Silva E.,University of Aveiro | And 2 more authors.
Applied Geochemistry

The active Panasqueira mine is a tin-tungsten (Sn-W) mineralization hosted by metasediments with quartz veins rich in ferberite. The economic exploitation has been focused on wolframite, cassiterite and chalcopyrite. The mineralization also comprises several sulphides, carbonates and silver sulphosalts. The mining and beneficiation processes produces arsenic-rich mine wastes laid up in huge tailings and open air impoundments that are the main source of pollution in the surrounding area, once the oxidation of sulphides can result in the mobilization and migration of trace metals/metalloids from the mining wastes into the environment, releasing contaminants into the ecosystem. A geochemical survey was undertaken, in order to investigate the environmental contamination impact on agricultural and residential soils in S. Francisco de Assis village due to the mining activities. Rhizosphere samples, vegetables (Solanum tubersum sava and Brassica olerácea L.) which constitute an important part of the local human diet), irrigation waters and road dusts were collected in private residences in S. Francisco de Assis village. According to the Ontario guidelines (Ministry of Environment, 2011), the Arsenic contents in the rhizosphere soils exceed 20 times the reference value for agricultural soils (11mgkg-1). The result obtained showed that some edible plants frequently used in the region could be enriched in these metals/metalloids and may represent a serious hazard if consumed. The potatoes tend to have a preferential accumulation in the leaves and roots while in cabbages most elements have a preferential accumulation in the roots. An index of the risk for residents, due to ingesting of these metals/metalloids, by consuming vegetables grown around the sampling area, was calculated and the result indicates that the inhabitants of S. Francisco de Assis village are probably exposed to some potential health risks through the intake of arsenic, cadmium and also lead via consuming their vegetables. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Candeias C.,University of Aveiro | Avila P.F.,National Laboratory of Energy and Geology | Da Silva E.F.,University of Aveiro | Ferreira A.,National Laboratory of Energy and Geology | And 2 more authors.
Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

The present and past mining activity left several abandoned tailings and dams in the Panasqueira tin-tungsten mining area. Seasonal water samples and stream sediments were collected during two different periods (rainy and dry seasons) and analyzed for a wide range of major and trace elements, in order to define the present hydrochemical situation. Rain waters interact with the altered sulfides stored in the tailings which generate runoff waters with high metal concentrations. The waste material derived from the exploitation enhanced acidification and metal-releasing processes, due to the increase in the specific surface, which favors the oxidation of sulfide minerals. Acid drainage and high metal(loid)s (Cd, Fe, Mn, Zn, Cu, As) concentrations in solution were observed in waters leaching the Panasqueira tailing deposits. In dry season, generally the acidic waters, enriched in metals, evaporate progressively depositing sulfate efflorescences characteristic of acidic environments. The elements distribution in precipitated minerals helps in the interpretation of aqueous geochemical data. Aqueous concentrations may be attenuated by goethite, gibbsite, and/or ferrihydrite precipitation in the oxidation zone through adsorption processes. The use of these waters for human consumption and for irrigation represents a threat to humans as they have a potential carcinogenic risk, especially due to the As concentrations. The acid water precipitation is present on the stream sediments, with concentrations exceeding the toxicity limits. Stream sediments are good receptors of metals and metalloids transported by waters. The enrichment factor values, of heavy metal(loid)s from Casinhas stream and Zêzere river sediments, are extremely high in Ag, As, Cd, and Cu revealing enrichments for these potential toxic elements. Igeo values shows that samples are strongly to very strongly polluted for Ag, As, Bi, Cd, and Cu. According to the consensus-based SQGs, 80 % of the samples were classified at the level of great concern and adverse biological effects are to be expected frequently in this area. © 2015 Springer International Publishing Switzerland. Source

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