Isotope record of anthropogenic lead pollution in lake sediments of Florida, USA.
We examined the anthropogenic lead (Pb) burden that accumulated in sediment of lakes in the southeastern USA during the last ~150 years. Mining, smelting, agriculture, and fossil-fuel combustion are known to have contributed to Pb pollution in lakes of other regions. Few studies, however, have examined Pb sequestered in lakes of the southeastern USA, particularly peninsular Florida, which is subject to less continental atmospheric influence than other regions of the eastern USA. We obtained sediment cores from Little Lake Jackson and Little Lake Bonnet in Highlands County, Florida and used Pb isotopes in the records to identify principal sources of Pb contamination. The sediment records showed that changes in Pb concentration and isotope ratios correspond temporally with gasoline consumption in the USA, as well as with changes in lead ores used to produce leaded gasoline. Lead concentrations in the study lakes showed temporal variations that were similar to those found in peat records from east-central Florida. Isotope trends were similar to the mean USA atmospheric Pb deposition record, and to Pb isotope records from Bermuda and Atlantic corals. We modeled the isotopic composition of the anthropogenic Pb in lake sediments and found that the overall trend is controlled by Pb that was released during leaded gasoline combustion. There is, however, additional Pb at each site that comes from sources that are not fully represented by the natural, background Pb. Lead isotope ratios and Pb/arsenic (As) ratios provide evidence that Pb deposition in lakes during the middle 1900s might have been influenced by lead arsenate applications to golf courses, a source that is often ignored in Pb isotope studies. Isotope evidence confirms, however, that following cessation of commercial lead arsenate use in the 1960s, atmospheric alkyl lead was again the primary influence on Pb in sediments of the study lakes.
Escobar, J., Whitmore, T.J., Kamenov, G.D., & Riedinger-Whitmore, M.A. (2013). Isotope record of anthropogenic lead pollution in lake sediments of Florida, USA. Journal of Paleolimnology, 49(2), 237-252. doi:10.1007/s10933-012-9671-9.
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