Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and Heavy Metals in Permafrost-affected Soils and Lichens from Mining Areas in the Russian Arctic

Evgeny Abakumov, Xiaowen Ji

Research output


Introduction : The largest chromite mining factory in the world is located in the Yamal-Nenets autonomous region, Russian Arctic. Our study is to investigate the composition and distribution of PAHs/metals in soils and lichens in the study areas; to determine the contribution of PAHs from mining activity by identification of sources; to describe the relationships between the distributions of soil and lichens to the physicochemical properties of PAHs at high latitudes and to evaluate the hazardous possibility of the heavy metal’s levels to different local population.Material & Methods : Forty soil and lichen samples and sixteen soil horizon samples were collected in the mining and surrounding areas. The 16 priority PAHs from US EPA and 8 heavy metals (Cu, Pb, Cd, Zn, Ni, Mn, Cr, and Hg) were measured. PAH concentrations and lichen/soil (L/S) were calculated. The assignment of PAH sources was determined by the positive matrix factorization method. Geoaccumulation index and pollution load index for metals were evaluated and potential non-cancer risk of each heavy metal is determined as the hazard quotient (HQ).Results : The 5+6-ring PAHs were most abundant in the mining area. The L/S results showed that 2-4 ring PAHs could be transported by air and thus occur more in lichens than in the soil, while 5+6-ring PAHs accumulated more in the soil. Strong relationships between the quotient of soil/lichen and Log KOA and Log PL and between the quotient of lichen/histic horizon soil and KOW were observed. Hydrogeological conditions influenced the downward transport of PAHs. Also, the surprisingly high levels of 5+6 rings were found in the permafrost table. The results showed that Hg is highly to extremely polluted in all sites, Cd and Ni are only moderately polluted in mining areas. HQ showed no health risk for adults for heavy metals, while Ni, Mg, Hg may cause potential health risk for local Nets children via soil ingestion.Conclusions :Mining activity was the major source of PAHs/metals in the area, and that the mining influenced the surrounding natural area. Our study shows that intensive mining activities in the Russian Arctic may threaten the fragile tundra ecosystem in this region.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSoils of Urban, Industrial, Traffic, Mining and Military Areas
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019
EventSoils of Urban, Industrial, Traffic, Mining and Military Areas - Seoul
Duration: 16 Jun 201921 Jun 2019


ConferenceSoils of Urban, Industrial, Traffic, Mining and Military Areas
Abbreviated titleSUITMA 10
CountryKorea, Republic of


Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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