Geological and Environmental Engineering | Conference paper | Published 2011

The impact of heavy metals concentration on soil biological properties in Kintyre Pb mining area, Jamaica


Claion Robinson

Paul Wright

Gerald Lalor

Keywords: Kintyre mining, Jamaica, soil pollution, heavy metals


Soil contamination with heavy metals occurs as a result of both anthropogenic and natural activities. Heavy metals could have long-term hazardous impacts on the health of soil ecosystems and adverse influences on soil biological processes. Soil microorganisms are recognized as sensors towards any natural and anthropogenic disturbance occurring in the soil ecosystem. Similarly, soil nematodes are also considered as one of the important soil biotas and are frequently influenced by HM contamination. The total number of nematode individuals has recently been used to investigate changes in soil biota composition in response to environmental stresses. This study was conducted within the Kintyre Pb mining area. Soil sampling plots are located in the Hope River Valley, in the foothills of the Port Royal Mountains near to the Kingston. Mining was discontinued in the late 19th century, leaving a legacy of superficial tailings and crushed ore. These materials have been dispersed into the surrounding areas. HM concentrations, soil pH, soil moisture content (SM), the total number of nematode individuals (TotalNem), and nematode community structure were studied. 18 soil samples (0-10 and 10-20 cm) from 3 sampling plots with different pollution levels (low (<100 mg/kg), moderate (300-700 mg/kg) and very high (>1000 mg/kg) concentration) were sampled in triplicate. Airdrieyed soils samples were sieved through 2mm mesh and HM, TotalNem, SM, pH were determined in subsamples. TotalNem was significantly lower (p<0.05) in soil samples with a high concentration of HM from the soil sampling plot C than in soils with low and moderate HM content from the soil sampling plots A and B. No significant differences were observed in SM and pH between soil layers and sampling plots. TotalNem patterns confirmed that the concentration of heavy metals had a significant impact on nematodes. The soil nematodes were sensitive to Pb, Cd and Zn is an indicator of soil pollution with HM and can be used within the Environmental assessment projects.

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