Title: Stable (206Pb, 207Pb, 208Pb) and radioactive (210Pb) lead isotopes in 1 year of growth of Sphagnum moss from four ombrotrophic bogs in southern Germany: geochemical significance and environmental implications
Citation: GEOCHIMICA ET COSMOCHIMICA ACTA vol. 163 p. 101-125
Publication Year: 2015
JRC N°: JRC94741
ISSN: 0016-7037
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC94741
DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2015.04.026
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: The surfaces of Sphagnum carpets were marked with plastic mesh and one year later the production of plant matter was harvested in four ombrotrophic bogs from two regions of southern Germany: Upper Bavaria (Oberbayern, OB) and the Northern Black Forest (Nordschwarzwald, NBF). Radioactive, 210Pb was determined in solid samples using ultralow background gamma spectrometry while total Pb concentrations and stable isotopes (206Pb, 207Pb, 208Pb) were determined in acid digests using ICP-SMS. Up to 12 samples (40x40 cm) were collected per site, and 6 to 10 sites investigated per bog. The greatest variations within a given sampling site were in the range 212-532 Bq kg-1 for 210Pb activity, whereas 206Pb/207Pb and 208Pb/206Pb varied less than 1 %. The median values of all parameters for the sites (6-10 per bog) were not significantly different. The median activities of 210Pb (Bq kg-1) in the mosses collected from the bogs in NBF (HO = 372 ± 56, n=55; WI = 342 ± 58, n=93) were slightly less from those in OB (GS = 394 ± 50, n=55; KL = 425 ± 58, n=24). However, the mosses in the NBF bogs exhibited much greater productivity (187 to 202 g m-2 a-1) compared to those of OB (71 to 91 g m-2 a-1), and this has a profound impact on the accumulation rates of 210Pb (Bq m-2 a-1), with the bogs in the NBF yielding fluxes (HO = 73 ± 30; WI = 65 ± 20) which are twice those of OB (GS = 29 ± 11; KL = 40 ± 13). Using the air concentrations of 210Pb measured at Schauinsland (SIL) in the southern Black Forest and average annual precipitation, the atmospheric fluxes of 210Pb at SIL (340 Bq m-2 a-1) exceeds the corresponding values obtained from the mosses by a factor of five, providing the first quantitative estimate of the retention efficiency of 210Pb by Sphagnum. When the 210Pb activities of all moss samples are combined (n=227), a significant decrease with increasing plant production rate is observed; in contrast, total Pb concentrations show the opposite trend. The contrasting behaviour of 210Pb and total Pb in the mosses may reflect differences in the particle size distribution of the corresponding aerosols, their physical and chemical properties, the extent of their interaction with plant surfaces, or some combination of these factors. The 206Pb/207Pb ratios from NBF (HO = 1.159 ± 0.002, n=19; WI = 1.157 ± 0.003, n=48) and OB (GS = 1.157± 0.003, n=28; KL = 1.159 ± 0.003, n=15) are uniform, indicating that both regions are impacted by Pb from predominately anthropogenic sources. Although Sphagnum moss represents an established receptor in monitoring atmospheric Pb deposition, the physical characteristics (size, morphology, composition) of the three predominant kinds of Pb-bearing aerosols considered here, namely 210Pb (adsorbed onto aerosol surfaces, following decay of 222Rn), anthropogenic Pb (sub-micron aerosols from high temperature combustion processes) and soilderived mineral dusts (tens of microns, from chemical weathering of crustal rocks), are fundamentally different and these have consequences for the retention efficiency of the three kinds of particles.
JRC Directorate:Nuclear Safety and Security

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