A study of metals contamination related to mining and smelting industries in Baia Mare, Northern Romania

Palanseau, Monica, Dept. Geology, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL 33620, mpalasea@chuma.cas.usf.edu; Ryan, Jeffrey G., Department of Geology, University of South Florida

The Baia Mare region of Northern Romania is polluted with heavy metals resulting from several centuries of an active Cu-Pb mining and refining industry, as well as from modern sources (i.e., use of leaded paints and fossil fuels). The aim of this study is to examine the levels of heavy metals in the soils of the city of Baia Mare associated with mining and with the smelting activities at the local Pb and Cu processing plants. Although Pb is the primary contaminant of environmental concern, our study has focused initially upon Cu, Zn, and Fe levels in the soils. Cu and Zn are specifically derived from the mining and smelting industry in the area, as sphalerite and Cu ore minerals are found with galena in local deposits. Fe, like Pb, has multiple anthropogenic sources, and also occurs (as pyrite) in ore rocks. Our ultimate goal is to compare Pb abundance patterns with data for other more source-specific species, in order to resolve the sources of heavy metal contamination of soils in Baia Mare.

The metals data thus far shows that concentrations of Cu and Zn above Romanian standard values (500ppm) are present in soils downstream and downwind of the two smelting factories. The values for Cu and for Zn range from 10ppm to over 3000 ppm and 100 ppm to over 2500 ppm, respectively. Fe abundance levels show less overall variability than Zn and Cu, but display concentration peaks in the same areas of the city. Our results indicate that Zn and Cu patterns may serve as a proxy for mining/smelting derived metals contamination in Baia Mare soil.