Central European Journal of Geosciences vol:1 issue:1 pages:63-83
An investigation of the metallurgical complex surroundings in Elbasani, Albania used background samples to rule out the level of contamination in the study area. Our results show that atmospheric dust particles and soils are of high concern while overbank sediments and actual river sediments are of lower concern. The heavy metals with concentrations of up to 5 times above the local background values are Zn, Cr, Ni, Cu, Fe and Co in soils; Fe, Cr, Co, Ni, Zn, Pb in dust particles; and, Cr and Zn in the actual river/stream sediments. Due to the small size of the dust particles and the atmospheric transportation mechanism primarily related to prevailing winds, the concern for the transport of dust particles is high, especially with respect to risks associated with inhalation. The people working and living in the vicinity of the metallurgical complex of Elbasani are at the highest risk of exposure. Concerns relating to soils are associated with the potential for translocation of the trace element particles into vegetation, in particular, within the upper part of the plants. Therefore, the consumption of the vegetables grown in the vicinity of the metallurgical site should be avoided. Special attention has been given to the Shkumbini river, where the long residence time of water and particulates may result in transitions of trace elements between dissolved and particulate phases downstream.