Trace metal (Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn) fractionation in urban-industrial soils of Ust-Kamenogorsk (Oskemen), Kazakhstan-implications for the assessment of environmental quality.Environ Monit Assess. 2018 May 25; 190(6):362.EM
Ust-Kamenogorsk is one of the largest cities and industrial centers in Kazakhstan. Non-ferrous metallurgy (Zn-Pb smelter) has acted as a predominating industrial branch in the city since late 1940s. The industrial plants are situated directly adjacent to the residential area of the city which creates grievous ecotoxicological hazard. In the present paper, we aimed at assessing the trace metal pollution of top soils in Ust-Kamenogorsk and its potential threats to the local population. The top soils were sampled at 10 sites throughout the city center. We determined the physical and chemical properties of soils as well as the contents of Cd, Cu, Pb, and Zn. In addition, the soil samples were subjected to a five-step sequential extraction to ascertain the fractionation of trace metals. On this basis, we calculated the geoaccumulation index (Igeo) and pollution load index (PLI) and assessed bioavailability of the elements. From our data, it emerged that the soils displayed a strong polymetallic pollution. PLI was as high as 33.4. Throughout the city, the trace metal contents exceeded the geochemical background and allowable values for residential, recreational, and institutional areas. The Igeo obtained were 3.7-6.5 for Cd, 1.5-4.7 for Cu, 2.8-5.7 for Pb, and 2.6-4.6 for Zn. The soils in Ust-Kamenogorsk displayed extremely high contamination with Cd, moderate to strong contamination with Pb and Zn, and low to moderate contamination with Cu. Cd and Pb were found to be the most bioavailable elements. The mobility of trace metals in the soils changed in the order Cd > Pb > Zn > Cu.