Evaluation of Heavy Metal Pollution of Snow and Groundwater on the Territory of Suburban Community Garden Plots of the Arkhangelsk Agglomeration (Northwest Russia)

Document Type : Original Research Paper


N. Laverov Federal Centre for Integrated Arctic Research of Russian Academy of Sciences, 109 Severnoj Dviny Emb., P.O.Box 163000, Arkhangelsk, Russia


The article presents the results of a study of heavy metals in snow and groundwater within the industrially developed Arkhangelsk agglomeration, which is the largest among urban formations in the Arctic zone of Russia. This article describes the results of research on the territories of three suburban community garden plots used by residents of the cities of the Arkhangelsk, Severodvinsk and Novodvinsk agglomeration for recreation, growing fruits and vegetables, picking wild berries and mushrooms, and short-term residence. In groundwater samples taken from wells, the average concentrations of heavy metals decrease in the following order: Fe > Mn > Zn > Cr > Ni > Cu > Ti > V > Pb > U > As > Co > Mo > Sb > Cd. A comparison of metal concentrations in groundwater with WHO and SanPiN standards showed that only Fe and Mn exceeded the permissible limits, for the rest of the studied metals, the concentrations were significantly below the permissible limits. The study of heavy metals in the snow showed a similar order of decrease in concentrations to groundwater and total concentrations of soluble metal fractions. This fact indicates the migration of heavy metals into groundwater after the spring snowmelt and the fact the main source of groundwater pollution is the atmospheric channel. According to the values of the total areal pollution of the snow cover with heavy metals, the most polluted are suburban garden plots in the area of the Arkhangelsk city – 216.91 mg/m2. The results of the principal component analysis showed that the main sources of snow cover pollution with heavy metals in the suburban areas of the Arkhangelsk agglomeration were thermal power plants, machine-building and metallurgical plants, a solid waste landfill, and vehicles. The calculation of the heavy metal pollution index for water did not reveal a significant anthropogenic impact. However, the indices assessing the amount of metals (heavy metal evaluation index), toxicity (heavy metal toxicity load), non-carcinogenic risk (hazard index), and carcinogenic risk indicate a high level of heavy metal pollution of the studied waters, as well as the unsuitability of groundwater and melted snow as drinking water. Metals such as Fe, Mn, Ni, Cu, and Pb make the greatest contribution to the quality indices of the studied waters.


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