Author(s): Pizarro J, Vergara PM, Rodrguez JA, Valenzuela AM
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Abstract Rivers of central-northern Chile are exposed to pollution from different sources, including mining activities, natural orogenic process, volcanic activity, and geology. In order to determine the contribution of mining to river pollution, the spatio-temporal dynamics of chemical species dissolved in 12 rivers of central-northern Chile was assessed. Of all the rivers studied, the Elqui showed the highest historical mean concentrations of As, Cu and Pb. The Aconcagua had the highest concentration of Hg and a large Cr concentration, while the Rapel showed elevated concentrations of Cu and Mo. The Elqui and the Aconcagua were clustered as distinct groups by a cluster analysis based on two independent principal components. Hierarchical Bayesian models showed annual trends but no seasonal effects in heavy metal concentrations. As and Cu in the Elqui had positive annual slopes. Sulphate concentration exceeded 100 mg L(-1) in nine rivers, and in seven of them it had positive annual slopes. Our findings suggest that mining pollution is the main process contributing to this increasing annual trend in As, Cu and SO(4)(2-). Therefore, in order to improve the water quality of these rivers it is necessary to identify the main sources of heavy metals associated with mining activities. Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This article was published in J Hazard Mater
and referenced in Journal of Environmental Analytical Chemistry