First Report of Rare Earth Elements and Other Chemical Elements in Sediments of Rivers throughout Chile
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Department of Animal Science, Facultad de Ciencias Veterinarias, Universidad de Concepción, Av. Vicente Méndez 595, Chillán, Chile
Departamento de Suelos y Recursos Naturales, Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 537, Chillán, Chile
Ecology & Biodiversity Department & Sustainability Research Centre, Facultad de Ciencias de la Vida, Universidad Andrés Bello, Santiago, Chile
Comisión Chilena de Energía Nuclear, Nueva Bilbao 12501, Las Condes, Santiago, Chile
Laboratory of Aquatic Environmental Research, Centro de Estudios Avanzados - HUB Ambiental UPLA, Universidad de Playa Ancha, Valparaíso, Chile
Millennium Nucleus INVASAL
Cape Horn International Center (CHIC)
Submission date: 2022-01-29
Final revision date: 2022-03-02
Acceptance date: 2022-03-30
Online publication date: 2022-06-20
Publication date: 2022-09-01
Corresponding author
Winfred Espejo   

Department of Soils and Natural Resources, Facultad de Agronomía, Universidad de Concepción, Casilla 537, Chillán, Chile, 407003, Chillán, Chile
Pol. J. Environ. Stud. 2022;31(5):4061-4069
The increase in demand for emerging technologies has also increased the presence of rare earth elements and other lesser-known elements in the environment that were previously stable in the earth’s crust. The aim of this study was to determine the current status of five rare earth elements such as cerium (Ce), lanthanum (La), neodymium (Nd), praseodymium (Pr) and yttrium (Y), and barium (Ba), niobium (Nb), rubidium (Rb), thorium (th) and zirconium (Zr), in superficial sediments from rivers of northern, central and southern Chile. Data showed that the order of abundance of elements in the river sediments was Ba > Nd > Pr > La > Ce > Zr > Rb > Y > Th > Nb. We found higher Ba, Ce, La, Nd and Pr contents in northern and central Chile. Our findings showed that probably these chemical elements are adsorbed into sediments, which could facilitate remobilization to the water column, thus being more bioavailable to biota. Considering that rivers of northern and central Chile are usually used for human consumption and irrigation purposes, further studies to understand the processes involved in the recycling of elements in the watersheds are necessary. Our results may serve as a basis for environmental impact studies that are required by the Chilean legislation before any productive investment.
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