Contamination of heavy metals in paddy soil in the vicinity of Nui Phao multi-metal mine, North Vietnam.Environ Geochem Health. 2020 Dec; 42(12):4141-4158.EG
Nui Phao mine in Thai Nguyen Province, Vietnam, is the second-largest tungsten (W) open-pit mine in the world, but the level of environmental impacts is not well known. In order to examine the heavy metal contamination in the ecosystem of this mining area, we analyzed six trace elements (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn) in the collected soil samples. The analytical results showed that all the soil samples were contaminated by Cd and As. Most of the soil samples were contaminated by As (mean value 50.93 ± 55.44 mg/kg) and Cd (mean value 15.22 ± 9.51 mg/kg), which figures are up to 16 and 23 times higher, respectively, compared with the Vietnamese soil quality standard for agriculture (QCVN 03-MT:2015/BTNMT) of 15 mg/kg for As and 1.5 mg/kg for Cd. Contamination factor (CF), enrichment factor (EF), geo-accumulation index (Igeo), principal component analysis (PCA) and hierarchical clustering analysis (HCA) were used to identify the influence of mining activity in the contamination. The CF, EF, pollution index (PI) and Igeo indicated that this area was extremely polluted by Cd, severely to moderately-heavily polluted by As and slightly to moderately polluted by other elements such as Cr, Cu, Pb and Zn. The PCA and HCA results also attribute the source of As, Pb and Zn contamination and enrichment of Cd, Cr and Cu in the study area to Nui Phao mining activities. The PI and contamination degree (Cd) values of soil quality indicate that the study area was contaminated with particular reference to Cd and As and the level of contamination was decreased in the order of Pb > Cr > Cu > Zn. The study area had high potential ecological risk, and the carcinogenic risk value was higher than the acceptable value (1 × 10-6 to 1 × 10-4). This means that the local resident health is strongly affected by Nui Phao mining activities both directly and indirectly via food consumption, when rice plant grown in the paddy field is the dominant crop in the study area.