Saturday, December 18, 2010

High post mining arsenic mobilization after more than 200 years in the oldest Brazilian Gold mining province

Arsenic and trace metals in river water and sediments from the southeast portion of the Iron Quadrangle, Brazil.

Environ Monit Assess. 2011 Jan;172(1-4):631-42. Epub 2010 Mar 18.
Varejão EV, Bellato CR, Fontes MP, Mello JW.
Departamento de Química, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Av. P.H. Rolfs, s/n, 36571-000, Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
The Iron Quadrangle has been one of the most important gold production regions in Brazil since the end of the seventeenth century. There, arsenic occurs in close association with sulfide-rich auriferous rocks. The most abundant sulfide minerals are pyrite and arsenopyrite, yet trace metal sulfides occur in subordinate phases as well. Historical mining activities have been responsible for the release of As and trace metals to both aquatic and terrestrial environments close to mining sites in the region. Therefore, this study was aimed to evaluate the distribution and mobility of As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn in streams in the southeast portion of the Iron Quadrangle between the municipalities of Ouro Preto and Mariana, the oldest Brazilian Au mining province. Total concentrations of some trace metals and arsenic in water were determined. The four-stage sequential extraction procedure proposed by the commission of the European Communities Bureau of Reference (BCR) was used to investigate the distribution of these elements in stream sediments. Arsenic concentration in water was > 10 μg L⁻¹ (maximum limit permitted by Brazilian environmental regulations for water destined for human consumption) at all sampling sites, varying between 36.7 and 68.3 μg L⁻¹. Sequential extraction in sediments showed high concentrations of As and trace metals associated with easily mobilized fractions.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Asbestos scandal

Irresponsible policies could cause an epidemic of malignant lung disease.

"Governments must ban the extraction, processing and use of materials that can cause serious disease".

Nature Editorial

Nature 468: 868 (16 December 2010) doi:10.1038/468868a
Published online 15 December 2010