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Rare Earth Elements in Soils of Jharia Coal Field

Authors: A. Sinha, R. E. Masto, L. C. Ram, S. K. Verma, V. A. Selvi, J. George, R. C. Tripathi, N. K. Srivastava, D. Mohanty, S. K.Jha, A. K. Sinha


There are many sources trough which the soil get enriched and contaminated with REEs. The determination of REEs in environmental samples has been limited because of the lack of sensitive analytical techniques. Soil samples were collected from four sites including open cast coal mine, natural coal burning, coal washery and control in the coal field located in Dhanbad, India. Total concentrations of rare earth elements (REEs) were determined using the inductively coupled plasma atomic absorption spectrometry in order to assess enrichment status in the coal field. Results showed that the mean concentrations of La, Pr, Eu, Tb, Ho, and Tm in open cast mine and natural coal burning sites were elevated compared to the reference concentrations, while Ce, Nd, Sm, and Gd were elevated in coal washery site. When compared to reference soil, heavy REEs (HREEs) were enriched in open cast mines and natural coal burning affected soils, however, the HREEs were depleted in the coal washery sites. But, the Chondrite-normalization diagram showed significant enrichment for light REEs (LREEs) in all the soils. High concentration of Pr, Eu, Tb, Ho, Tm, and Lu in coal mining and coal burning sites may pose human health risks. Factor analysis showed that distribution and relative abundance of REEs of the coal washery site is comparable with the control. Eventually washing or cleaning of coal could significantly decrease the emission of REEs from coal into the environment.

Keywords: Soil, Coal, Factor Analysis, rare earth elements

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