Depth Profiling (ICP-MS) Study of Toxic Metal Buildup in Concrete Matrices: Potential Environmental Impact
This paper explores the potential of concrete material to accumulate toxic trace elements using ablative laser technology (ICP-MS). Concrete existing in offshore structures submerged in seawater acts as a sink for hazardous metals, which could be gradually released into the ocean creating pollution and anoxic conditions for marine life. Ablative laser technology is a valuable tool for depth profiling concrete to evaluate the distribution of toxic metals and locate internal areas where such metals accumulate. Upon rapid degradation of concrete these “hotspots” could be suddenly released, thus posing a distinct threat to aquatic life. Our work simulated offshore drilling conditions by immersing concrete blocks in seawater and investigating accumulated toxic trace metals (As, Be, Cd, Hg, Os, Pb) in cored samples by laser ablation. The experimental results showed distinct inhomogeneity in metal distribution. The data suggest that conditions within the concrete structure are favorable for random metal accumulation at certain points. The exact mechanism for this behavior is not clear at this stage and has considerable scope for extended research including modeling and remedial studies.
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