Redistribution of uranium and thorium by soil/plant interaction in a recultivated mining area

Victor G. Mihucz, Zsolt Varga, Eniko Tatár, István Virág, René van Grieken, Zsuzsanna Koleszár, Gyula Záray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


During the recultivation of the uranium mining area of Ko{double acute}vágószo{double acute}lo{double acute}s (Hungary), the tailings were covered with clay and loess soil layers having a thickness of 30 cm and 100 cm, respectively. In the loess covering layer, acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia), poplars (Populus × albus, Populus × canescens), oak (Quercus pubescens), silver tree (Eleagnus angustifolia) were planted between 1996 and 2004. In order to establish the extent of the uranium and thorium transport from the sludge to the leaves by uptake and translocation processes through roots with a length higher than 1.3 m results in a remarkable redistribution of these pollutants, a gray poplar tree, growing spontaneously in the last uncovered tailing, being selected as reference tree. The U and Th concentrations in the leaves of the above-mentioned trees, in the covering layers as well as in the original sludge were determined by inductively coupled plasma sector field mass spectrometry (ICP-SF-MS). Generally, the Th concentration of the soils was about 4 times higher than that of uranium, while uranium concentration was about 10-130 times higher than that of thorium in the leaf samples and its concentration ranged from 28 to 1045 ng g- 1, the last value belonging to the poplar tree growing on the last uncovered tailing. In order to assume the mobility and bioavailability of uranium if the dry leaves fall down, the uranium species in the leaves of the poplar tree growing in the uncovered reservoir were determined applying ultrasound-assisted extraction with distilled water and ammonium acetate as well as high performance liquid chromatographic (HPLC)-ICP-SF-MS technique. About 20% of total uranium could be extracted in form of uranyl cations and a presumably negatively charged uranium compound. Estimations revealed that the annual increment of U in the soil surface layer due to the dead fallen leaves in case of the investigated gray poplar (Populus × canescens) is about 1.2%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-49
Number of pages6
JournalMicrochemical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2008


  • HPLC
  • ICP-MS
  • Mining
  • Soil
  • Tree
  • Uranium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy

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