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Influences of Gold King Mine Spill on the Bioaccumulation of Heavy Metals and Metalloids in Zea mays

Author(s): Joshua D Froyum, Jani C Ingram

The long-term impacts of heavy metals and metalloids on Navajo Nation agricultural systems has been questioned following the Gold King Mine’s release of over 3 million gallons of acid mine drainage into the San Juan River Watershed in 2015. The present study determined the concentrations of As, Cd, Pb, and U in soil and Zea mays (corn) plants at three test sites and compared them to one control sites in 2017. All soils and corn concentrations for As, Cd, Pb, and U were below set limits. The bioaccumulation factor (BF) of each element revealed that this vegetable is a poor accumulator of As, Cd, and Pb from the soil (BF<1), and good accumulator of uranium (BF>1). To further establish if Zea mays may be considered an accumulator species, examination of the translocation factor (TF) revealed poor translocation from roots to other corn segments for all analytes (TF<1).

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