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Enfoque UTE

On-line version ISSN 1390-6542Print version ISSN 1390-9363


PAZ-BARZOLA, Daniela; ESCOBAR-SEGOVIA, Kenny  and  JIMENEZ-OYOLA, Samantha. Soil quality assessment in populated areas near the gold mining zone of Ponce Enriquez. Enfoque UTE [online]. 2022, vol.13, n.4, pp.29-38. ISSN 1390-6542.

The objective of the study was to evaluate soil quality in population centers near gold mining areas. The concentration of heavy metals and metalloids (As, Cd, Cu, Cr, Ni, Pb, and Zn) was analyzed in soil samples collected in public areas, yards, gardens, and cultivation areas. As a result, it was identified that the concentration of Ni and Cr exceeded the maximum permissible limit (MPL) established in the Unified Text of Secondary Environmental Legislation of Ecuador (TULSMA) in 100 % of the samples analyzed, while the concentration of Cu and Zn was higher than the MPL in 90 % of the sites sampled. Cd exceeded the MPL in 64 % of the samples, and As and Pb exceeded the MPL in 26 % and 21 % of the samples, respectively. Cd, As and Pb are elements of special concern due to their high toxicity and significant presence in the study area. Regarding pH analysis, values between 3.31 and 8.21 were obtained, indicating acidic conditions in 60 % of the soil samples, possibly as a result of anthropogenic activity in the area. Strong positive correlations were detected between As-Cd, Cr-Ni, Cu-Ni, and moderate correlations between Cr-Cu and Pb-Zn, which is related to the mineralization of the area. Cluster analysis indicated that cluster C1, characterized by a high content of potentially toxic elements, is mostly located south of the study area. These preliminary results can serve as a baseline for future research in the area, highlighting the importance of soil quality assessment in mining areas.

Keywords : mining; heavy metals; Spearman correlation; cluster analysis; soil quality.

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