Desktop version

Home arrow Engineering

  • Increase font
  • Decrease font


<<   CONTENTS   >>

Environmental and Health Effects of Acid Mine Drainage

Geoffrey S. Simate

CONTENTS

  • 5.1 Introduction..................................................................................................97
  • 5.2 Effect of High Acidity.................................................................................98
  • 5.2.1 Effect of High Acidity on Plants....................................................98
  • 5.2.2 Effect of High Acidity on Aquatic Species.................................100
  • 5.2.3 Effect of High Acidity on Human Health..................................101
  • 5.3 Effect of Heavy Metals..............................................................................102
  • 5.3.1 Effect of Heavy Metals on Plants.................................................103
  • 5.3.2 Effect of Heavy Metals on Aquatic Species................................103
  • 5.3.3 Effect of Heavy Metals on Human Health.................................105
  • 5.4 Concluding Remarks.................................................................................108

References.............................................................................................................108

Introduction

As discussed in Chapter 3, acid mine drainage (AMD) which, without doubt, is one of the serious pollutants in the world, is extremely acidic (pH as low as 2) and is enriched with iron, aluminium, sulphate and many other heavy metals (Evangelou, 2001). More specifically, AMD is most often characterised by one or more of the four major components: (1) low pH (high acidity), (2) high metal concentrations (with iron being the most common), (3) elevated sulphate levels and (4) excessive suspended solids and/or siltation (AMRC, 2020).

It is obvious that the seriousness of AMD, as a pollutant, arises from its nature, extent and difficulty of resolution, as well as the economic costs of its prevention and remediation. Research has shown that AMD has the potential to affect the ecosystem and the environment negatively through the release of acidic water that contains high concentrations of metals and metalloids (CSIR 2013; Simate and Ndlovu, 2014). It is very clear from such studies that AMD effluents are associated with numerous environmental impacts such as the increase in the acidity of soils and water sources, in addition to the content of dissolved salts (Foureaux et al., 2020). AMD is also responsible for various human and animal health problems if it is disposed without proper treatment in water bodies intended for consumption (Foureaux et al., 2020). The most unfortunate fact is that AMD which is one of the most prominent environmental issues currently facing the mining industry is regarded as second only to global warming and stratospheric ozone depletion in terms of global ecological risk (Crane and Sapsford, 2018). This chapter discusses the pertinent findings of the impacts of AMD on the ecosystem, in particular, humans, plants and aquatic species based on the available documented literature. The chapter will specifically focus on the effects of acidity and heavy metals on plants, aquatic species and human health.

 
<<   CONTENTS   >>

Related topics