The potential risk of environmental contamination by mercury contained in Polish coal mining waste

Author ORCID Identifier

Anna Michalska 0000-0002-1922-9089


The paper contains reference literature analysis concerning mercury content in Polish bituminous coal and post-mining waste as well as the impact of mercury content on the environment. The aim of the paper was to determine the occurrence of the risk of contamination of the environment with mercury compounds found in demolition bituminous coal landfills. Mercury, due to its toxic properties has been classified among the most dangerous substances to human health. There are three groups of sources of mercury release into the environment: natural, anthropogenic and remission. Coal mining, its processing and use in the energy sector has the greatest relevance regarding the pollution of the environment with mercury compounds in Poland. A review of reference literature shows that the average content of mercury in Polish bituminous coal varies within a wide range of 41–399 ppb, which is conditional on the origin, age and type of coal. The production of coal has led to a number of facilities in the form of structurally and age-varied landfills, heaps and mining waste dumps. The content of mercury in post-mining waste is in the range from approximately 55 to 380 ppb. The problem of environmental contamination with mercury has attracted considerable interest due to the effects that its concentration have in the biosphere. On the basis of the existing data it has been found that the content of mercury in soils in areas degraded by mining and processing of coal is even 10–16 times higher, compared to the geochemical background. It is necessary to conduct research in this area due to the limited results of research on mercury content in deposited waste from the preparation and flotation of Polish bituminous coals and the potential harmful effect of mercury on the environment. The paper is dedicated to the mercury content in waste from the extraction and processing of bituminous coal.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.