Spatial distribution of heavy metal contamination in soils near a primitive e-waste recycling site.
The total concentrations of 12 heavy metals in surface soils (SS, 0-20 cm), middle soils (MS, 30-50 cm) and deep soils (DS, 60-80 cm) from an acid-leaching area, a deserted paddy field and a deserted area of Guiyu were measured. The results showed that the acid-leaching area was heavily contaminated with heavy metals, especially in SS. The mean concentrations of Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Sn, Sb and Pb in SS from the acid-leaching area were 278.4, 684.1, 572.8, 1.36, 3,472, 1,706 and 222.8 mg/kg, respectively. Heavy metal pollution in the deserted paddy field was mainly concentrated in SS and MS. The average values of Sb in SS and MS from the deserted paddy field were 16.3 and 20.2 mg/kg, respectively. However, heavy metal contamination of the deserted area was principally found in the DS. Extremely high concentrations of heavy metals were also observed at some special research sites, further confirming that the level of heavy metal pollution was very serious. The geoaccumulation index (Igeo) values revealed that the acid-leaching area was severely polluted with heavy metals in the order of Sb > Sn > Cu > Cd > Ni > Zn > Pb, while deserted paddy field was contaminated predominately by metals in the order of Sb > Sn > Cu. It was obvious that the concentrations of some uncommon contaminants, such as Sb and Sn, were higher than principal contaminants, such as Ni, Cu, Zn and Pb, suggesting that particular attention should be directed to Sn and Sb contamination in the future research of heavy metals in soils from e-waste-processing areas. Correlation analysis suggested that Li and Be in soils from the acid-leaching area and its surrounding environment might have originated from other industrial activities and from batteries, whereas Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb, Sn and Sb contamination was most likely caused by uncontrolled electronic waste (e-waste) processing. These results indicate the significant need for optimisation of e-waste-dismantling technologies and remediation of polluted soil environment.