Assessment of Zn toxicity/mobility based on its speciation and transformations in soils is critical for maintaining human and ecosystem health. Zn-concentrate (56 % Zn as ZnS, sphalerite) has been imported through a seaport and transported to a Zn-smelter for several decades, and smelting processes resulted in aerial deposition of Zn and sulfuric acids in two geochemically distinct territories around the smelter (mountain-slope and riverside). XAFS analysis showed that the mountain-slope soils contained franklinite (ZnFe2O4) and amorphous (e.g., sorbed) species of Zn(II), whereas the riverside sediments contained predominantly hydrozincite [Zn5(OH)6(CO3)2], sphalerite, and franklinite. The mountain-slope soils had low pH and moderate levels of total Zn (~ 1514 ppm), whereas the riverside sediments had neutral pH and higher total Zn (12,363 ppm). The absence of sphalerite and the predominance of franklinite in the mountain-slope soils are attributed to the susceptibility of sphalerite and the resistance of franklinite to dissolution at acidic pH. These results are compared to previous Zn analyses along the transportation routes, which showed that Zn-concentrate spilled along the roadside in dust and soils underwent transformation to various O-coordinated Zn species. Overall, Zn-concentrate dispersed in soils and sediments during transportation and smelting transforms into Zn phases of diverse stability and bioavailability during long-term weathering.
- Zn smelter
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Engineering
- Environmental Chemistry
- Waste Management and Disposal
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis