Scrap Metal Deposits as Potential Sources of Enhanced Risk in Soil and Vegetation
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Department of Agro-Environmental Chemistry and Plant Nutrition, Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Science Prague, Prague-Suchdol, Czech Republic
Submission date: 2018-11-06
Final revision date: 2019-01-30
Acceptance date: 2019-02-12
Online publication date: 2019-08-21
Publication date: 2019-12-09
Corresponding author
Jiřina Száková   

Czech University of Life Sciences, Czech Republic
Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 2020;29(1):841–852
High levels of soil pollution occur worldwide as a result of industrial and agricultural production, automotive and rail transport, and other human activities. In the metal-processing industry, risk elements (As, Be, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, V, Zn, etc.) in the waste produced should be contained, and can be an environmental risk. Our experiment monitored soil contamination levels around metal scrap deposits and their potential impact as a risk to dandelion (Taraxacum sect. Ruderalia) biomass. Sampling was carried out in four open deposits of metallic scrap located in East Bohemia, Czech Republic. The results showed a variety of risk elements in the soils, with no relationship to the soil’s physicochemical parameters, but affected by the amount, composition, and ageing of the deposited metallic scrap. The element contents in soils varied in a wide range and for some elements reached extremely high levels: 1.68±2.81 mg/kg of Cd, 62.0±71.8 mg/kg of Cr, 262±376 mg/kg of Cu, 193±355 mg/kg of Pb, and 495±475 mg/kg of Zn, but a very high environmental risk, estimated according to the Risk Assessment Code (RAC), was recorded only for Cd and Zn. Substantial soil-plant transport with predominant translocation to the above ground biomass was recorded for Cd (shoot/root ratio reached up to 2.1), whereas Zn remained equally distributed between roots and above ground biomass. The Zn bioaccumulation factors decreased with increasing soil Zn content. Although the results cannot be clearly generalized because of the different character of the scrap in the individual deposits, only cadmium was able to penetrate the surrounding environment regardless of the location. Scrap metal deposits do not currently represent a global environmental risk, but monitoring potential soil and plant contamination next to scrap metal deposits is recommended for identifying potential environmental hazards.