Volume No. 6 Issue No.: 3 Page No.: 381-388 Jan-Mar 2012

 

ARSENIC CONTAMINATION IN SOILS, WATER AND PLANTS SURROUNDING GOLD MINE AT WANGSAPHUNG , LOEI PROVINCE, THAILAND

 

Thanes Weerasiri*1, Wanpen Wirojanagud2,3 and Thares Srisatit4

1. Department of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Khon Kaen University, Khon Kaen (THAILAND)
2. Centre of Excellence on Hazardous Substance Management, PERDO, Bangkok (THAILAND)
3. Research Center for Environmental and Hazardous Substance Management, Khon Kaen University (THAILAND)
4. Department of Environmental Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok (THAILAND)

 

Received on : October 15, 2011

 

ABSTRACT

 

Arsenic contamination has been come across as the adverse problem in the area surrounding gold mine at Wangsaphung District, Loei Province, Northeast Thailand since starting operation in 2006. Determination of arsenic in surface water by responsible agencies found that the concentration was very low, less than 0.01 mg/l designated by USEPA as the Maximum Concentration Level (MCL). However, there has been no investigation of arsenic levels in soil and plants in such area. This paper reports investigations of arsenic contamination in plants, soil and water in the area surrounding gold mine. A total of 23 root-zone soil samples, 9 surface water samples and 125 plant samples were taken from 5 stations within the catchment where gold mining located (inside catchment) and 1 station at the nearby catchment (outside catchment) for total arsenic analysis. The analysis results present that all samples were contaminated with arsenic. For soil samples, arsenic content was in the range of 1.21-56.17 mg As/kg of soil compared to the MCL as 3.90 mg As/kg of soil for agriculture use designated by Office of National Environment Board of Thailand. Arsenic concentration in water samples was not evident as in soil, its level was mostly in the range of 0.001-0.021 mg/l. However, it indicated that some locations had higher concentration exceeded the MCL (US.EPA). Regarding the plant investigation, contaminant levels were in the range of 0.01-1.04 mg/kg in both annual crop and perennial plants, and the range of 0.16-0.67 mg/kg in oak fern. As arsenic contamination was found at both inside and outside catchments, it indicated arsenic naturally exist throughout the area. However, the significant high level of arsenic in soil, plants and water at Phulek Creek located nearby the gold mine area, implying that such higher level of arsenic was possibly caused by mining activities.

 

Keywords : Arsenic contamination, Environment, Gold mine, Maximum limit con tamination, National Environment Board of Thailand

 

 

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