Iron and steel are highly important materials used in a wide range of products with important contribution to the economic development. The processes for making iron and steel are energy intensive and known to contribute to local pollution. Deposition of the metals may also have adverse impacts on soil quality, which requires detailed assessment. The aim of this study was to investigate the impacts of iron and steelmaking facilities on the local soil quality. Soil samples were collected in the vicinity of two steelmaking sites in Australia, one based on blast furnace steelmaking operation, while the second site was based on electric arc furnace steel recycling. The soil samples were compared to a background site where no industrial impact is expected. The soil collected near industrial facilities contained larger toxic metal contents, however this concentration for all priority metals was within the Australian National Environmental Protection Measure guidelines for the acceptable recreational soil quality. When compared to the international soil quality guidelines, some of the soils collected near the industrial sites, particularly near the blast furnace operated steelmaking, exceeded the arsenic, iron and manganese (according to United States Environmental Protection Agency guidelines) and chromium, copper and nickel concentrations (according to the Canadian guidelines). The work further provided a novel environmental assessment model taking into consideration the environmental and health impacts of each element. The environmental assessment revealed most significant contribution of manganese, followed by titanium, zinc, chromium and lead. Titanium was the second most important contributor to the soil quality, however this metal is currently not included in any of the international soil quality guidelines.
- Environmental assessment
- Soil quality