A comprehensive field survey was conducted to explore the status of arsenic (As) contamination in soil and water systems surrounding numerous abandoned mine sites in Korea, which were previously applied with soil-topping (15cm deep) and lime treatment for remediation purposes. This survey also aimed to assess the environmental stability of those reservoirs in relation to their established guidelines for As. To this end, a total of 5837 target soils (TS) were analyzed along with 305 control soils (CS) and 74 tailing (TA) samples. In addition, analyses were also extended to cover 1066 water and 329 sediment samples. Substantial evidence (e.g., differences in the mean As levels between TS (12.7mgkg-1) and CS (0.69mgkg-1) and the strong correlation between TS and TA) suggests a strong effect of previous mining activities. Soil-topping method was successful in confining As at the subsurface soil and restraining its dispersal. Although soil pH level also dropped with increasing As, it was restored to near neutrality by liming treatment. The mean values of As in water samples are comparable between dry (22.2) and wet seasons (21.2mgL-1), while its values frequently exceeded various guideline limits. The pollution status of the current land and water systems needs to be assessed properly along with a removal plan for mine wastes/tailings to limit the dispersion of As in the study area.
- Environmental guideline