Any toxic metal may be called a heavy metal, irrespective of its' atomic mass or density, although generally, heavy metals have densities above 5g/cm3 and as part of Earth's Elements, they cannot be degraded or destroyed.
Fifty three of the ninety naturally occurring Earth's Elements are heavy metals and those of highest concern to human, animal and environmental health include arsenic, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, mercury, manganese, nickel, lead, tin, and thallium.
Dust, Fumes and Exhaust, carried in the air, from mining, coal fired power plants and historical vehicle emissions contribute to soil contamination of heavy metals.
Metal contamination has markedly increased in the vicinity of coal-fired power stations since they have been constructed and operated.
Once metals are released to the atmosphere, they return to the surface environment by both wet and dry depositional processes.
"The mining and subsequent combustion of coal generates significant amounts of Metals and metalloids and these are released into the environment and nearby homes and businesses both via the dust produced during the extraction of coal (open-cut coal mines), as well as during the combustion process. Metal emission rates are, therefore, dependent on the total amount of metal present in the coal, the amount and method of coal mined and combusted and the type of pollution control devices employed within power stations.
Coal-fired power stations are ageing in Australia and it is rare for modern devices to control particle (and consequently metal) emissions to be retrofitted. By 2030, around half of the 24 coal-fired power stations in Australia will be over 40 years old, with some stations having operated for nearly 60 years."
While Aluminium and Magnesium are indicative of normal erosion processes of soil, increases in other metals commonly found in higher concentrations in coal ash and coal dust like Arsenic, Lead, Zinc, Cobalt and Selenium, suggest that the catchment soils near the mines and power plants have been contaminated since the establishment of coal mining and burning activities through atmospheric deposition.
Note that while this research did not measure Antimony, other reports have found that coal mining and coal burning by-products also contain Antimony. and other metals like Mercury.
Result presentation is visually rich, informative and actionable.
Have a Question?Go for it...
The National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 (updated May 2013) provides Australian Guidelines for Health Investigation Levels for Soil Contaminants, called HILs, for a few Heavy metals and other toxic chemicals. We include these within the results when they are available. Of relevance here is the overview of how all the HILs are derived but more specifically how the HILs for the heavy metals are derived. A graphic summary of these values is after references.
Core Soil Test
Getting the most from the Toxtest 32 Element Soil Test
Lithium, an emerging environmental contaminant, is mobile in the soil-plant system,
The occurrence of lithium in the environment of the Jordan Valley and its transfer into the food chain,
Establishing geochemical background variation and threshold values for 59 elements in Australian surface soil,
Geochemical and Mineralogical Maps for Soils of the Conterminous United States,
Geochemical and Mineralogical Maps for Soils of the Conterminous United States, CAUTION - very large 178Mb PDF file yet fascinating and full of details.
Trace element concentrations and background values in the arid soils of Hormozgan Province of southern Iran,
Geochemical Background and Baseline Values Determination and Spatial Distribution of Heavy Metal Pollution in Soils of the Andes Mountain Range (Cajamarca-Huancavelica, Peru),
Assessment of soil metal concentrations in residential and community vegetable gardens in Melbourne, Australia,
Ambient background metal concentrations for soils in England and Wales,
Background Concentrations of Trace and Major Elements in California Soils,
Background Levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Metals in Soil,
Background concentrations and reference values for heavy metals in soils of Cuba,
Ambient Levels of Metals in New Jersey Soils,
An Investigation of Inorganic Background Soil Constituents with a Focus on Arsenic Species,
National Geochemical Survey of Australia (NGSA): The Geochemical Atlas of Australia: Dataset,
National Geochemical Survey of Australia (NGSA): The Geochemical Atlas of Australia,
Analysis of Background Distributions of Metals in the Soil at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory,
Australian Guidelines for Health Investigation Levels for Soil Contaminants (HILs),
Guidance for Developing Ecological Soil Screening Levels (Eco-SSLs) - Review of Background Concentrations for Metals,
Distribution of Arsenic and Heavy Metals in Soils and Surface Waters in Central Victoria (Ballarat, Creswick and Maldon),
The science of phosphorus nutrition: forms in the soil, plant uptake, and plant response,
Assessment Levels for Soil, Sediment and Water - Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) - Western Australia - Version 4, revision 1, 2010,
Background concentrations of trace elements in soils and rocks of the Georgia, Piedmont,
Development of Oregon Background Metals Concentrations in Soil,
Geochemical and Mineralogical Data for Soils of the Conterminous United States,
A Chain Modeling Approach To Estimate the Impact of Soil Cadmium Pollution on Human Dietary Exposure,
Lead Toxicity: Health Hazards, Influence on Food Chain, and Sustainable Remediation Approaches,
Next-generation ice core technology reveals true minimum natural levels of lead (Pb) in the atmosphere: Insights from the Black Death,
DEC (Department of Environment and Conservation, Western Australia) - Contaminated Sites Management Series – Assessment Levels for Soil, Sediment and Water. Version 4, Revision 1,
Soil pH and exchangeable aluminium in contrasting New Zealand high and hill country soils,
Effect of natural and anthropogenic acidification on aluminium distribution in forest soils of two regions in the Czech Republic,
REF: Australian Guidelines for Health Investigation Levels for Soil Contaminants (HILs),
Toxtest © All Rights Reserved
It's not rocket science.
Less toxins, better health.
All impeccable analyses by
Environment Analysis Laboratories (EAL)
at Southern Cross University, Lismore, Australia
Innovative visualisation, research and education
by Hartmut Günther, founder at
Toxtest and Toxno
214 Beardy St, Armidale, NSW, Australia
Content on Toxtest is subject to copyright ©.
CASRN: CAS Registry Number is a Registered Trademark of the American Chemical Society.
Let others know
Tweet this page.
Share Toxtest on Facebook
Follow Hartmut Gunther on Twitter
Human & Environmental Chemical Testing for the Public. Innovative Result Visualisation with emphasis on Human Health