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Groundwater quality under stress: contaminants in the Kharaa River basin (Mongolia)

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Environmental Earth Sciences

Springer Nature

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      Most cited references 13

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      Groundwater arsenic contamination throughout China.

      Arsenic-contaminated groundwater used for drinking in China is a health threat that was first recognized in the 1960s. However, because of the sheer size of the country, millions of groundwater wells remain to be tested in order to determine the magnitude of the problem. We developed a statistical risk model that classifies safe and unsafe areas with respect to geogenic arsenic contamination in China, using the threshold of 10 micrograms per liter, the World Health Organization guideline and current Chinese standard for drinking water. We estimate that 19.6 million people are at risk of being affected by the consumption of arsenic-contaminated groundwater. Although the results must be confirmed with additional field measurements, our risk model identifies numerous arsenic-affected areas and highlights the potential magnitude of this health threat in China.
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        Heavy metal contamination and health risk assessment in the vicinity of the abandoned Songcheon Au–Ag mine in Korea

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          Gold mining impact on riverine heavy metal transport in a sparsely monitored region: the upper Lake Baikal Basin case.

          Mining and ore excavation can cause the acidification and heavy metal pollution of downstream water systems. It can be difficult to assess the load contributions from individual mining areas, which is commonly required for environmental impact assessments. In the current study, we quantified the net impact of the unmonitored mining activities in the Zaamar Goldfield (Mongolia) on heavy metal transport in the downstream Tuul River-Selenga River-Lake Baikal water systems. We also noted that the Zaamar site shares the conditions of limited monitoring with many rapidly developing regions of the world. The heavy metal concentrations and flow data were obtained from historical measurement campaigns, long-term monitoring, and a novel field campaign. The results indicate that natural mass flows of heavy metals in dissolved form increased by an order of magnitude because of mining. Prevailing alkaline conditions in the vicinity of Zaamar can limit the dissolution, maintaining the on-site concentrations below health-risk based guideline values. However, suspended river concentrations are much higher than the dissolved concentrations. The placer gold mining at the Zaamar site has increased the total riverine mass flows of Al, As, Cu, Fe, Mn, Pb and Zn by 44.300, 30.1, 65.7, 47.800, 1.480, 76.0 and 65.0 tonnes per year respectively. We suggest that local to regional transformation and enrichment processes in combination with suspended sediment transport from numerous existing upstream mining areas contribute to high concentrations of dissolved heavy metals in downstream parts of the Selenga River, including its delta area at Lake Baikal. Furthermore, single hydrological events can increase the suspended load concentrations by at least one order of magnitude. Overall, the Selenga River Basin, which drains into Lake Baikal, should be recognised as one of the world's most impacted areas with regard to heavy metal loads, and it contributes to 1% and 3% of the world flux of dissolved Fe and Pb, respectively.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Environmental Earth Sciences
            Environ Earth Sci
            Springer Nature
            1866-6280
            1866-6299
            January 2015
            March 19 2014
            January 2015
            : 73
            : 2
            : 629-648
            10.1007/s12665-014-3148-2
            © 2015
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