Heavy metal contamination in soil and some medicinal plant species in Ahangaran lead-zinc mine, Iran

Document Type: Original Article


Department of the Environment, School of Basic Sciences, Hamadan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Hamadan, Iran


Ahangaran lead-zinc mining area located in the west part of Iran is a mountainous region. In this study, medical plants and soils from 3 different sites in this area were collected in spring 2012. Soil and medical plants were analyzed for heavy metals [lead (Pb), zinc (Zn), cadmium (Cd) and copper (Cu)] concentrations using inductively coupled plasma (ICP) optical emission spectrometer (Varian 710-Es) and the physical properties of soils [(pH) and electrical conductivity (EC)] were measured. Soil and medical plants of the mineralized zone and surrounding areas have higher heavy metal contamination (P < 0.05) as compared to the reference site, which can be attributed to the dispersion of metals due to mining. This high heavy metal contamination may pose potential threats to local medical plants and soil of Ahangaran region. Furthermore, the concentrations of Pb and Cd in soil surrounding the mine were higher than the US environmental protection agency (USEPA) standard, and the concentration of Pb in medical plant species surrounding the mine was higher than the world health organization (WHO) standard for edible plants (P < 0.05).  


1. Ghaderian SM, Ghotbi Ravandi AA. Accumulation of copper and other heavy metals by plants growing on Sarcheshmeh copper mining area, Iran. Journal of Geochemical Exploration 2012; 123(0): 25-32.

2. Shah MT, Begum S, Khan S. Pedo and biogeochemical studies of mafic and ultramfic rocks in the Mingora and Kabal areas, Swat, Pakistan. Environmental Earth Sciences 2010; 60(5): 1091-102.

3. Wei B, Yang L. A review of heavy metal contaminations in urban soils, urban road dusts and agricultural soils from China. Microchemical Journal 2010; 94(2): 99-107. 

4. Muhammad S, Shah MT, Khan S. Health risk assessment of heavy metals and their source apportionment in drinking water of Kohistan region, northern Pakistan. Microchemical Journal 2011; 98(2):334- 43.

5. Jung MC. Heavy Metal Concentrations in Soils and Factors Affecting Metal Uptake by Plants in the Vicinity of a Korean Cu-W Mine. Sensors 2008; 8(4): 2413-23.

6. Nouri J, Lorestani B, Yousefi N, Khorasani N, Hasani AH, Seif F, et al. Phytoremediation potential of native plants grown in the vicinity of Ahangaran lead-zinc mine (Hamadan, Iran). Environmental Earth Sciences 2011; 62(3): 639-44.

7. Fayiga AO, Ma LQ, Cao X, Rathinasabapathi B. Effects of heavy metals on growth and arsenic accumulation in the arsenic hyperaccumulator Pteris vittata L. Environ Pollut 2004; 132(2): 289-96.

8. Shah BA, Shah AV, Singh RR. Sorption isotherms and kinetics of chromium uptake from wastewater using natural sorbent material. Int J Environ Sci Tech 2009; 6(1): 77-90.

9. Monni S, Uhlig C, Hansen E, Magel E. Ecophysiological responses of Empetrum nigrum to heavy metal pollution. Environ Pollut 2001; 112(2):121- 9.

10. Gardea-Torresdey JL, Peralta-Videa JR, de la Rosa G, Parsons JG. Phytoremediation of heavy metals and study of the metal coordination by X-ray absorption spectroscopy. Coordination Chemistry Reviews 2005; 249(17-18): 1797-810.

11. Guala SD, Vega FA, Covelo EF. The dynamics of heavy metals in plantGÇôsoil interactions. Ecological Modelling 2010; 221(8): 1148-52.

12. Ling T, Guanghua Z, Jun R. Effects of chromium on seed germination, root elongation and coleoptile growth in six pulses. Int J Environ Sci Tech 2009; 6(4): 571-8.

13. Ayari F, Hamdi H, Jedidi N, Gharbi N, Kossai R. Heavy metal distribution in soil and plant in municipal solid waste compost amended plots. Int J Environ Sci Tech 2010; 7(3): 465-72.

14. Das M, Maiti SK. Comparison between availability of heavy metals in dry and wetland tailing of an abandoned copper tailing pond. Environ Monit Assess 2008; 137(1-3): 343-50.

15. Rowell DL. Soil science: methods and applications. New York, NY: Longman Scientific & Technical; 1994.

16. Rashed MN. Monitoring of contaminated toxic and heavy metals, from mine tailings through age accumulation, in soil and some wild plants at Southeast Egypt. J Hazard Mater 2010; 178(1-3): 739-46.

17. Ryan J, Estefan G, Rashid A. Soil and Plant Analysis Laboratory Manual. Aleppo, Syria: ICARDA p. 172; 2001.

18. Mardukh Rohani N. Evolution of heavy metal concentration in compost, soil cover and button mashroom (case study: green house in Kurdistan Province) [MSc Thesis]. Hamadan, Iran: Islamic Azad University, Hamadan Branch; 2012.

19. Yoon J, Cao X, Zhou Q, Ma LQ. Accumulation of Pb, Cu, and Zn in native plants growing on a contaminated Florida site. Sci Total Environ 2006; 368(2-3): 456-64.

20. Rodriguez L, Ruiz E, Alonso-Azcarate J, Rincon J. Heavy metal distribution and chemical speciation in tailings and soils around a Pb-Zn mine in Spain. J Environ Manage 2009; 90(2): 1106-16.

21. Del RioM, Font R, Almela C, Velez D, Montoro R, De Haro BA. Heavy metals and arsenic uptake by wild vegetation in the Guadiamar river area after the toxic spill of the Aznalcollar mine. J Biotechnol 2002; 98(1):125- 37.

22. De Koe T. Agrostis castellana and agrostis delicatula on heavy metal and arsenic enriched sites in NE Portugal. Sci Total Environ 1994; 145(1-2): 103-9.