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Contaminated lead environments of man: reviewing the lead isotopic evidence in sediments, peat, and soils for the temporal and spatial patterns of atmospheric lead pollution in Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
2011 (English)In: Environmental Geochemistry and Health, ISSN 0269-4042, E-ISSN 1573-2983, Vol. 33, no 4, 311-329 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Clair Patterson and colleagues demonstrated already four decades ago that the lead cycle was greatly altered on a global scale by humans. Moreover, this change occurred long before the implementation of monitoring programs designed to study lead and other trace metals. Patterson and colleagues also developed stable lead isotope analyses as a tool to differentiate between natural and pollution-derived lead. Since then, stable isotope analyses of sediment, peat, herbaria collections, soils, and forest plants have given us new insights into lead biogeochemical cycling in space and time. Three important conclusions from our studies of lead in the Swedish environment conducted over the past 15 years, which are well supported by extensive results from elsewhere in Europe and in North America, are: (1) lead deposition rates at sites removed from major point sources during the twentieth century were about 1,000 times higher than natural background deposition rates a few thousand years ago (~10 mg Pb m(-2) year(-1) vs. 0.01 mg Pb m(-2) year(-1)), and even today (~1 mg Pb m(-2) year(-1)) are still almost 100 times greater than natural rates. This increase from natural background to maximum fluxes is similar to estimated changes in body burdens of lead from ancient times to the twentieth century. (2) Stable lead isotopes ((206)Pb/(207)Pb ratios shown in this paper) are an effective tool to distinguish anthropogenic lead from the natural lead present in sediments, peat, and soils for both the majority of sites receiving diffuse inputs from long range and regional sources and for sites in close proximity to point sources. In sediments >3,500 years and in the parent soil material of the C-horizon, (206)Pb/(207)Pb ratios are higher, 1.3 to >2.0, whereas pollution sources and surface soils and peat have lower ratios that have been in the range 1.14-1.18. (3) Using stable lead isotopes, we have estimated that in southern Sweden the cumulative anthropogenic burden of atmospherically deposited lead is ~2-5 g Pb m(-2) and ~1 g Pb m(-2) in the "pristine" north. Half of this cumulative total was deposited before industrialization. (4) In the vicinity of the Rönnskär smelter in northern Sweden, a major point source during the twentieth century, there is an isotopic pattern that deviates from the general trends elsewhere, reflecting the particular history of ore usage at Rönnskär, which further demonstrates the chronological record of lead loading recorded in peat and in soil mor horizons.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Dordrecht: Springer, 2011. Vol. 33, no 4, 311-329 p.
Keyword [en]
Lead isotopes, Lake sediments, Peat, Soil, Atmospheric pollution
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-52207DOI: 10.1007/s10653-011-9381-7PubMedID: 21424772OAI: diva2:500109
Available from: 2012-02-13 Created: 2012-02-13 Last updated: 2012-03-13Bibliographically approved

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Bindler, Richard
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