Groundwater contamination by uranium and mercury at the Ridaura aquifer (Girona, NE Spain)
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Elevated concentrations of uranium and mercury have been detected in drinking water from public supply and agricultural wells in alluvial and granitic aquifers of the Ridaura basin located at Catalan Coastal Ranges (CCR). The samples showed high concentrations of U above the U.S. standards and the World Health Organization regulations which set a maximum value of 30 µg/L. Further, high mercury concentrations above the European Drinking Water Standards (1 µg/L) were found. Spatial distribution of U in groundwater and geochemical evolution of groundwater suggest that U levels appear to be highest in granitic areas where groundwater has long residence times and a significant salinity. The presence of high U concentrations in alluvial groundwater samples could be associated with hydraulic connection through fractures between the alluvial system and deep granite system. According to this model, oxidizing groundwater moving through fractures in the leucocratic/biotitic granite containing anomalous U contents are the most likely to acquire high levels of U. The distribution of Hg showed concentrations above 1 µg/L in 10 alluvial samples, mainly located near the limit of alluvial aquifer with igneous rocks, which suggests a possible migration of Hg from granitic materials. Also, some samples showed Hg concentrations comprised between 0.9 and 1.5 µg/L, from wells located in agricultural areas.
CitationNavarro, A., Font, X., Viladevall, M. Groundwater contamination by uranium and mercury at the Ridaura aquifer (Girona, NE Spain). "Toxics", 16 Agost 2016, vol. 4, núm. 3, p. 1-20.