Antimony bioavailability in mine soils

Helen C Flynn, Andy A Meharg, Phillipa K Bowyer, Graeme I Paton, Andrew Meharg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Citations (Scopus)


Five British former mining and smelting sites were investigated and found to have levels of total Sb of up to 700 mg kg(-1), indicating high levels of contamination which could be potentially harmful. However, this level of Sb was found to be biologically unavailable over a wide range of pH values, indicating that Sb is relatively unreactive and immobile in the surface layers of the soil, remaining where it is deposited rather than leaching into lower horizons and contaminating ground water. Sb, sparingly soluble in water, was unavailable to the bacterial biosensors tested. The bioluminescence responses were correlated to levels of co-contaminants such as arsenic and copper, rather than to Sb concentrations. This suggests that soil contamination by Sb due to mining and smelting operations is not a severe risk to the environment or human health provided that it is present as immobile species and contaminated sites are not used for purposes which increase the threat of exposure to identified receptors. Co-contaminants such as arsenic and copper are more bioavailable and may therefore be seen as a more significant risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-100
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution


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