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You are here: Home » Past Issues » Volume 7, 2012 - Number 4 » IMPACT OF THE TAILINGS IMPOUNDMENTS ON GROUNDWATER QUALITY IN BOZÂNTA AREA (BAIA MARE – NW ROMANIA) AND HUMAN EXPOSURE


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Eugen Stelian GURZĂU1,2, Călin BACIU2, Anca Elena GURZĂU1, Simona SURDU3 & Gheorghe DAMIAN4
1Environmental Health Center, Busuiocului 58, 400240 Cluj-Napoca, Romania, e-mail:egurzau@ehc.ro
2Babes-Bolyai University, Faculty of Environmental Science and Engineering, str. Fantanele 30, 400326, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, e-mail: calin.baciu@ubbcluj.ro
3School of Public Health, University at Albany, State University of New York, 5 University Place, Room A217, Rensselaer NY 12144, USA, e-mail: ssurdu@albany.edu
4Tehnical University of Cluj Napoca, North University Center of Baia Mare, dr. Victor Babeş Street, No. 62, Baia Mare, Romania, e-mail: damgeo@ubm.ro

IMPACT OF THE TAILINGS IMPOUNDMENTS ON GROUNDWATER QUALITY IN BOZÂNTA AREA (BAIA MARE – NW ROMANIA) AND HUMAN EXPOSURE

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Abstract:

The area of Bozânta tailings management facility, well known after the cyanide spill that occurred in the year 2000, has been evaluated from the point of view of the groundwater quality and the influence of using this resource as a drinking water source on the human exposure. Water samples were collected and analyzed in the laboratory for heavy metals and cyanides. The most intensive pollution has been noticed in the proximity of the TMFs. Notably the old tailings ponds that do not have a geomembrane underneath, seem to release important amounts of pollutants to the groundwater. Modeling of the groundwater flow and transport of contaminants has been performed by using the UnSat Suite and Visual Modflow software packages. Under steady state conditions, the ponds without an impermeable liner will produce long-term pollution of the groundwater and soil. Remediation actions will significantly diminish the transfer of pollutants to the groundwater and gradually reduce the load of contaminants in the shallow aquifer. Data on water consumption and perception of the quality of different water sources were obtained using a questionnaire administered by interviewers to each 29 children aged 7-11 years and 68 adults from Bozânta Mare. It was also investigated the chronic morbidity registered in the locality at the family doctor between 2000 and 2009. Residents of Bozânta Mare still prefer to use the water from their domestic wells for drinking and cooking, at the expense of the supplied water, whose quality is certified and monitored. The perceptions of water quality result from a complex interaction of diverse factors. In many circumstances, the estimation of water quality is mostly influenced by organoleptic properties, flavor in particular. The current general morbidity from chronic diseases for inhabitants of Bozânta Mare locality is not significantly different compared to other localities in the area or at national level. A sustained educational process in the community of Bozânta Mare will make people understand the importance of long term health risks related to the heavy metals contamination, as well as the benefits of safe water consumption.


Keyword: groundwater, tailings, pollution, heavy metals, human exposure


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