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Citizen science campaign reveals widespread fallout of contaminated dust from mining activities in the central Peruvian Andes

James B. Molloy, Donald T. Rodbell, David P. Gillikin and Kurt T. Hollocher
Citizen science campaign reveals widespread fallout of contaminated dust from mining activities in the central Peruvian Andes
Geology (Boulder) (April 2020) 48 (7): 678-682

Abstract

Inadequate management of mine tailings at Cerro de Pasco, one of Peru's largest mining complexes, has resulted in elevated concentrations of Pb, As, Cu, Zn, and Ag in surface soil horizons across the Junin Plain, central Peru. During June 2016, in response to local concern over mine contamination, teams of local citizens armed with sample bags, plastic trowels, and GPS receivers acquired 385 surface soil samples and 9 plant samples from agricultural lands from an area approximately 1000 km2 on the Junin Plain. Metal concentrations were determined by acid digestion and inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry, and results revealed elevated levels of Pb, As, Cu, Zn, and Ag in all samples within a 10 km radius of the center of mining activities, and measurable contamination at least 30 km to the south-southwest, in the direction of prevailing winds. Dust traps emplaced for a 12 month period confirmed that contamination is ongoing. High metal concentrations in grasses growing on contaminated soils revealed that a portion of the total metal contamination is removed from the soil and held in grass tissue, where it can be ingested by graminivores, especially llama, alpaca, and sheep, thereby entering the human food supply.


ISSN: 0091-7613
EISSN: 1943-2682
Coden: GLGYBA
Serial Title: Geology (Boulder)
Serial Volume: 48
Serial Issue: 7
Title: Citizen science campaign reveals widespread fallout of contaminated dust from mining activities in the central Peruvian Andes
Affiliation: Union College, Geology Department, Schenectady, NY, United States
Pages: 678-682
Published: 20200427
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
References: 38
Accession Number: 2021-004760
Categories: Environmental geologyGeochemistry of rocks, soils, and sediments
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table, sketch maps
S10°43'00" - S10°43'00", W76°15'00" - W76°15'00"
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2021, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data supplied by the Geological Society of America, Boulder, CO, United States
Update Code: 202104
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