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Archived soils contaminated with Ni, Cu, Co, and As from legacy operations of a nickel refinery at Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada were speciated using mineral liberation analysis. Four Ni minerals were identified as fingerprint compounds of the historical refinery emissions. Cu and Co were present in solid solution in these minerals due to their presence in the refinery's feed. The highest concentrations of Ni, Cu, Co, and As in these soils were 18,553, 1915, 196, and 79 mg/kg, respectively, these elevated contaminant concentrations attesting to the importance of incidental soil ingestion to the oral exposure pathway in Port Colborne. The in vitro gastric bioaccessibility (BAc) was determined for these contaminants, as was in vivo oral bioavailability (BAv), using a mass balance approach in male Sprague-Dawley rats. In spite of the elevated soil concentrations of Cu, the BAv of this physiologically important metal could not be distinguished from that in commercial rat chow, suggesting low potential for exposure. Co and As also had low apparent BAv (<2%). For Ni, baseline oral BAv of naturally sourced dietary Ni was found to be approximately 2%, as was the oral BAv of Ni from nickel sulfate hexahydrate. The mass balances of NiSO·6HO were fully accounted-for in urine and feces after a single gavage dose, indicating little to no organ incorporation from this highly soluble salt. Therefore, the urinary estimates of Ni BAv for these soils were assumed to represent true BAv despite variable fecal recoveries. The high Ni concentrations enabled BAc-BAv relationships to be developed for these contaminated soils. For absolute bioavailability (ABA) and relative bioavailability (RBA) the relationships were: ABA = 0.0116(BAc)-0.0479 and RBA = 0.5542(BAc)-2.2817. These findings will advance the development of robust exposure narratives for soil metal contamination in Port Colborne and elsewhere.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: The Science of the total environment
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A group of elements that include SCANDIUM; YTTRIUM; and the LANTHANOID SERIES ELEMENTS. Historically, the rare earth metals got their name from the fact that they were never found in their pure elemental form, but as an oxide. In addition they were very difficult to purify. They are not truly rare and comprise about 25% of the metals in the earth's crust.
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