A 1500-year record of lead, copper, arsenic, cadmium, zinc level in Antarctic seal hairs and sediments

Institute of Polar Environment, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, Anhui 230026, P. R. China.
Science of The Total Environment (Impact Factor: 4.1). 01/2007; 371(1-3):252-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2006.07.022
Source: PubMed


To reconstruct the profiles of heavy metal levels in the South Ocean ecosystem of Antarctica, the concentrations of lead (Pb), copper (Cu), arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), and zinc (Zn) in seal hairs and lake sediments spanning the past 1500 years from Fildes Peninsula of King George Island and in weathering lake sediments from Nelson Island of West Antarctica were determined. The lead contents in the seal hairs and the weathering sediments show a sharp increase since the late 1800s, very likely due to anthropogenic contamination from modern industries. After the 1980s, the Pb content in seal hairs dropped by one-third, apparently due to the reduced usage of leaded gasoline in the Southern Hemisphere. Copper arises mainly from the weathering process, and its level may be substantially affected by climatic conditions. The concentrations of Cd, As, and Zn do not show any clear temporal trends.

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