Laboratoire de géodynamique et ressources naturelles
Département de géologie
B.P 12 AnnabaAlgérie
The various mineral index levels in the area around Azzaba, in northeastern Algeria, are classified as polymetallic (Pb, Zn, Cu) and mercury-polymetallic (Hg, Pb, Zn, Cu). The mercury layers in the area are located on the northern side of the limestone mountain chain south of Azzaba. There is a mercury factory in the area that is a potential source of environmental mercury pollution.
The results of analyses on nine boreholes and two springs show high levels of the selected trace elements, in particular, Hg, Pb, and As, in the area groundwater. The mercury levels are excessively high — about 80 μg.L-1. Lead and arsenic levels also exceed WHO standards. We used principal component analysis (PCA) to define homogeneous zones of contamination.
The health risk assessment for the population living in the study area, according to RISC software, version 4, revealed an acceptable hazard index for Pb, but unacceptable levels for Hg and As, consumed or absorbed by either children and adults. The carcinogenic risk of As is unacceptable for children, but somewhat less dangerous for adults.