Fluoride Action Network

Case study: heavy metals and fluoride contents in the materials of Syrian phosphate industry and in the vicinity of phosphogypsum piles

Source: Environmental Technology 2012 Jan-Feb;33(1-3):143-52. | February 15th, 2012 | By Al Attar L, Al-Oudat M, Shamali K, Abdul Ghany B, Kanakri S.
Location: Syria
Industry type: Phosphate Industry


This study focuses on the determination of heavy metals and fluoride concentrations in the Syrian phosphate industry and in the vicinity of the phosphogypsum (PG) piles. Four sampling campaigns were carried out, in which 86 soil, 139 plant, 30 air particulate, 16 water, 12 PG, 6 phosphate ore (raw and treated) and 3 fertilizer samples were collected. Differential pulse anode stripping voltammetry was used for Pb and Cd determination, atomic absorption spectrometry was used for Zn, Cr and Cu determination, and instrumental neutron activation analysis was used for Se, Ni, As and Hg determination. Fluoride concentration was determined via fluoride ion selective electrode. The data revealed that most of the heavy metals were retained in the fertilizer. Fluoride content in PG was 0.47%. The presence of PG piles showed no impact on the run-off and ground and lake waters in the area. However, fluoride concentration was double the permissible airborne threshold in the sites to the east of the PG piles because of the prevailing wind in the region. Similarly, enhanced concentrations of fluoride were recorded for the eastern soil samples. The content of heavy metals in plants was element- and plant-specific and influenced by the element concentration in soil, the soil texture and the pH. The maximal mean of fluoride was found in the plants species of the eastern sites (699 mg kg(-1)), which mainly related to PG erosion and airborne deposition. Thus, the main impact of the PG piles was to increase the concentration of fluoride in the surrounding area. A national action should be taken to regulate PG piles.


The authors are with the Department of Protection and Safety, Atomic Energy Commission of Syria, Damascus

The abstract was published by PubMed