Human societies have, in all ages, modified the original form of metals and metalloids in their living environment for their survival and technical development. In many cases, these anthropogenic activities have resulted in the release into the environment of contaminants that pose a threat to ecosystems and public health. Examples of local and global pollution are legion worldwide, and the reader of the environmental science literature is forever faced with ever more alarming reports on hazards due to toxic metals. For example, extensive mining and associated industrial activities have introduced large amounts of metal contaminants in nature at the local,...

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