Monitoring heavy metals in private drinking water near industrial activity in Kosovo

University essay from Högskolan i Halmstad/Akademin för ekonomi, teknik och naturvetenskap

Abstract: Exposure to heavy metals around the world is practically unavoidable due to their extensive use and spread in the environment. This is especially critical due to the metals’ toxicity and detrimental effects on human health. Rural inhabitants in less developed countries in Europe near industrial local polluters are especially exposed. Leachates from industrial wastes may add heavy metal pollution to surrounding groundwater aquifers. Both industrial pollution and rain runoff poses extensive risks for private wells. These wells provide a large part of the drinking water supplies for Kosovo’s inhabitants. The aim of this study is to investigate how a nickel (Ni) refining industry’s slag hill is affecting the drinking water quality in surrounding neighbours private drinking water supplies. To do this 10 samples with increasing distance from the industrial slag hill were collected and analysed by Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). Chromium (Cr), Ni and lead (Pb) were below guideline and limit values in the well water drinking supplies. Rain runoffs increased the concentrations of aluminium (Al), Ni and Pb, in wells where rainwater leaked in. This was however not the case for Cr. Highest Cr concentrations were found in clear (unpolluted by rain runoff) well waters, southeast of a local open pit mining area. This study shows that the Ni refinery and slag hill do not currently risk contaminating local drinking water wells above guideline and limit values. However, there are indications that local mining activity may pose a larger risk concerning Cr leakage to the private wells. Further groundwater monitoring is needed focusing on this area to investigate potential and actual sources of pollution.

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