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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2006

Flux rates of atmospheric lead pollution within soils of a small catchment in northern Sweden and their implications for future stream water quality

Klaminder J, Bindler R, Laudon H, Bishop K, Emteryd O, Renberg I


It is not well-known how the accumulated pool of atmospheric lead pollution in the boreal forest soil will affect the groundwater and surface water chemistry in the future as this lead migrates through the soil profile. This study uses stable lead isotopes (Pb-206/Pb-207 and Pb-208/Pb-207 ratios) to trace the transport of atmospheric lead pollution within the soil of a small catchment and predict future lead level changes in a stream draining the catchment. Low Pb-206/Pb-207 and Pb-208/Pb-207 ratios for the lead in the soil water (1.16 +/- 0.02; 2.43 +/- 0.03) and streamwater (1.18 +/- 0.03; 2.42 +/- 0.03) in comparison to that of the mineral soil (> 1.4; > 2.5) suggest that atmospheric pollution contributes by about 90% (65-100%) to the lead pool found in these matrixes. Calculated transport rates of atmospheric lead along a soil transect indicate that the mean residence time of lead in organic and mineral soil layers is at a centennial to millennial time scale. A maximum release of the present pool of lead pollution in the soil to the stream is predicted to occur within 200-800 years. Even though the uncertainty of the prediction is large, it emphasizes the magnitude of the time lag between the accumulation of atmospheric lead pollution in soils and the subsequent response in streamwater quality

Published in

Environmental Science and Technology
2006, Volume: 40, number: 15, pages: 4639-4645