There are numerous closed and abandoned mines in Korea, from which diverse heavy metals (e.g., As, Cd, Cu, Pb, Zn) are released into the surrounding soil, groundwater, surface water, and crops, potentially resulting in detrimental effects on the health of nearby residents. Therefore, we performed human risk assessments of two abandoned metal mines, Yanggok (YG) and Samsanjeil (SJ). The exposure parameters used in this assessment were specific to residents near mines and the included exposure pathways were relevant to areas around metal mines. The computed total excess carcinogenic risks for both areas exceeded the acceptable carcinogenic risk (1 × 10-6), indicating that these areas are likely unsafe due to a carcinogenic hazard. In contrast, the non-carcinogenic risks of the two areas differed among the studied receptors. The hazard indices were higher than the unit risk (=1.0) for male and female adults in YG and male adults in SJ, suggesting that there are non-carcinogenic risks for these groups in the study areas. However, the hazard indices for children in YG and female adults and children in SJ were lower than the unit risk. Consumption of groundwater and crops grown in the area were identified as major exposure pathways for carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic hazards in both areas. Finally, the dominant metals contributing to carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks were As and As, Cu, and Pb, respectively.
In addition, the carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic risks of YG were evaluated to be 10 and 4 times higher than those of SJ, respectively, resulted from the relatively higher exposure concentration of As in groundwater within SJ area. Because of lacking of several exposure parameters, some of average daily dose (ADD) could not be computed in this study. Furthermore, it is likely that the ADDs of crop-intake pathway included some errors because they were calculated using soil exposure concentrations and bioconcentration factor (BCF) rather than using crop exposure concentrations.