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B A R E N C O Preliminary Findings – Assessment of Soils and Crops in the Zacatecas Area – Mexico – July 2002 Mercury Task Force Meeting and Public Workshop.

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Presentation on theme: "B A R E N C O Preliminary Findings – Assessment of Soils and Crops in the Zacatecas Area – Mexico – July 2002 Mercury Task Force Meeting and Public Workshop."— Presentation transcript:

1 B A R E N C O Preliminary Findings – Assessment of Soils and Crops in the Zacatecas Area – Mexico – July 2002 Mercury Task Force Meeting and Public Workshop – Zacatecas, Mexico Commission for Environmental Cooperation Ron Pearson, M.Sc. BARENCO INC Ontario, Canada

2 B A R E N C O Scope of Work Ø To undertake a literature review and scoping investigation related to the environmental impact of historical silver and gold mining operations in the Zacatecas area on agricultural activities as well as on ecological and human health.  As part of the scoping investigation, to undertake a preliminary sampling program involving the collection of a limited number of soil and vegetation samples for exploratory analysis of mercury and other environmental parameters.  Based on the results of the soil and vegetation sampling program and on information gathered pertaining to the potential receptors and exposure pathways, to develop a more comprehensive sampling program for consideration by the CEC.

3 B A R E N C O

4 Sampling Objectives oto obtain soil and crop tissues from a field located as close to the edge of the lagoon as possible to represent a maximum potential for contamination in this initial area of study; oto sample as many different species of crops as possible; oto collect samples of crop tissues that would represent both human and animal consumption; oto ensure that when crop tissues were sampled, a corresponding sample of soil from the 0-15 cm plough layer (rooting depth) was sampled; oto obtain soil and crop samples from the southeastern area of the lagoon where water rises and falls depending on seasonal rainfall and eventually seeps into the neighbouring fields; oto obtain surficial soil (0-5 cm depth) from an area in La Zacatecana where children would be exposed to the greatest extent; oto obtain soil from an unpaved dirt road in the village of La Zacatecana which, during dry times of the year, would be a source of wind-blown dust exposure; and, oto obtain a surficial soil sample from an area remote from La Zacatecana to gain insight on the natural background concentrations of chemical parameters selected for analysis.

5 B A R E N C O Site Selection Site NumberSite DescriptionSoil Depth Sampled (cm) Vegetation Type 1 Farm Field – West of La Zacacetana 0-15 cmCorn leaves Bean seeds 2School Playground – La Zacacetana 0-5 cmNo vegetation 3Unpaved Dirt Road – La Zacacetana 0-5 cmNo vegetation 4Farm Field – NW edge of lagoon 0-15 cmCorn leaves Corn kernels 5Farm Field – SE edge of lagoon 0-15 cmNo vegetation 6Farm Field – SE edge of lagoon 0-15 cmGreen Bean pods 7Mountain parkland – N of Zacatecas 0-5 cmNo vegetation

6 B A R E N C O Site 1

7 B A R E N C O Site 2

8 B A R E N C O Site 3

9 B A R E N C O Site 4

10 B A R E N C O Site 5

11 B A R E N C O Site 6

12 B A R E N C O Site 7

13 B A R E N C O Sampling of Soil and Vegetation

14 B A R E N C O Summary of Findings Chemical Ontario Criterion Agr. & Res/Park Coarse/Fine Texture (ug/g) Site 1 Farm Field ug/g Site 2 School ug/g Site 3 Road ug/g Site 4 Farm Field ug/g Site 5 Farm Field ug/g Site 6 Farm Field ug/g Site 7 Park Area ug/g Hg As20/ Cd3/4ND ND2.1 Pb Zn600/ E.C. (uS/cm)

15 B A R E N C O Chemical Parameters Analyzed Soil  pH, Hg, Methyl Hg, As, Sb, Ba, Be, Cd, Cr, Cr VI, Co, Cu, Pb, Mn, Mo, Se, Ag, Tl, V, Zn  E.C., CN, Nitrite, Nitrate, Sulphate, SAR, B, Fe  TCLP Inorganics Vegetation  Hg, Methyl Hg, Al, Sb, As, Ba, Be, Bi, B, Cd, Cr, Co, Cu, Fe, Pb, Mn, Mo, Ni, Se, ag, Sr, Tl, Sn, Ti, U, V, Zn, Sulphur

16 B A R E N C O Summary of Findings Soil  Soil exceeded ecological or human health risk-based criteria at four of the seven sites;  Chemical parameters found to exceed Ontario’s site remediation criteria included: Arsenic Cadmium Lead Mercury Zinc Electrical Conductivity (EC)  Contamination was greatest at Site 4 (Corn field -NW side of lagoon);

17 B A R E N C O Summary of Findings (cont’d) Soil  Soil from farm fields SE of the lagoon did not exceed any criteria;  Soil from the school playground and unpaved road exceeded only the mercury criterion which is based on vegetation protection;  Soil from the control site north of Zacatecas (Paseo de la Bufa) exceeded the soil criterion for lead.

18 B A R E N C O Summary of Findings Soil – Hazardous Waste Classification  None of the TCLP leachate analyses (including Hg, As, Pb and Ag) exceeded Ontario’s drinking water- based criteria  Based on these findings, the soil from the sampled sites would be classified as non-hazardous

19 B A R E N C O Summary of Findings Vegetation  Concentrations of mercury and other related contaminants in vegetation from the field where soil quality criteria were exceeded were elevated and warrant further investigation in terms of the risk posed from consumption;  Methyl mercury, the most toxic form of mercury in terms of human health, was found in very low concentrations in all vegetation samples, with the highest concentrations being 4 orders of magnitude (30,000-40,000 times) lower than levels that were recorded in contaminated flour that resulted in severe health problems for people exposed to methyl mercury in Iraq

20 B A R E N C O Preliminary Conclusions  mercury and other related contaminants are present in soils of some farm fields in the La Zacatecana area at concentrations in excess of risk-based human and ecological criteria;  Concentrations of mercury and other related contaminants were not detected in concentrations exceeding criteria which are used in Ontario for the remediation of sites to levels considered acceptable for residential/parkland use;  Concentrations of methyl mercury in vegetation were very low in comparison to dietary exposure levels reported in a study of health impacts in another country;  Concentrations of mercury and other related contaminants in vegetation from the field where soil quality criteria were exceeded were elevated and warrant further investigation in terms of the risk posed from consumption

21 B A R E N C O Preliminary Conclusions  Based on the foregoing findings, a more comprehensive assessment of the degree and extent of mercury and related chemical contamination throughout the entire zone where mine tailings are known to have accumulated over the past 500 years appears warranted to provide input data for assessment of potential human and ecological health impacts.

22 B A R E N C O The CEC and Mexican Team


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