Geological and Environmental Engineering | Conference paper | Published 2008

Heavy metals in soils: Distribution, forms, bioavailability and their impacts on soil biota (Uzbekistan, Angren-Almalik mining industrial area)


Michael Kersten

Stanislav Pen-Mouratov

Yosef Steinberger

Wolfgang Wilcke

Keywords: Heavy metals in soil, distribution, mineral forms, bioavailability, soil microorganisms, bioindicators, soil microorganisms, Angren-Almalyk industrial area, Uzbekistan


The knowledge of the chemical mobility of heavy metals in soils is fundamental to understanding their toxicity, bioavailability, and geochemical behavior. The soil samples, which are heavily impacted by aerial emissions from the coal-burning and metal-processing industry of the Angren-Almalyk mining industrial area, were the main subject of our intensive investigation. Accumulation and persistence of heavy metals in surface soil layers, their bioavailability, and potential toxicity were the main reasons for conducted research. The obtained data demonstrate that the Angren Power Plant and Almalyk Mining Metallurgical Combine is major source for Pb, Zn, Cu, Cd, and As enrichment in soils of the study area. The highest contents above mentioned metals were determined in the upper soil layer near the sources of pollution. The concentrations and forms of Cr, Ni, and Co in contrast suggest that the concentrations of these metals in soil were derived from the lithogenic background. The influences of heavy metals on soil microbial and nematode population characteristics along the pollution gradient in the Angren-Almalyk industrial area were investigated in detail. Results on the influences of heavy metals on soil microorganisms along the deposition gradient illustrate their negative response to heavy metal pollution. Studies on the relationship between soil biota and pollution levels have raised the question regarding the importance of natural soil abiotic properties, stressing the importance of background data of environmental conditions, and elucidating the importance of further studies on this subject. Obtained data on nematode population and community structure, ecological indices, and other indicators including microbial biomass, metabolic quotient in soils of study area show bright future of these techniques as tools for environmental biomonitoring and bioremediation measures.

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