Regional variations in atmospheric deposition and sources of anthropogenic lead in lake sediments across the Canadian Arctic

  • Outridge P
  • Hermanson M
  • Lockhart W
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Stable Pb isotope profiles in dated lake sediment cores were used to gauge the relative amounts and possible sources of anthropogenic Pb deposited from the atmosphere in different regions of the Canadian Arctic. A distinct north-south difference was found. In four High Arctic lakes (i.e., north of 66°N) in this study, recent Pb isotopic shifts or concentration increases attributable to anthropogenic Pb were negligible. The maximum possible contribution from anthropogenic Pb was 0 to 19% of acid-leachable Pb in the 1980s or 1990s. In contrast, two lakes in the Hudson Bay region displayed significantly lower Pb isotope ratios and threefold to fivefold increases of Pb concentrations in modern sediments, corresponding to anthropogenic Pb inputs of at least 72 to 91% of leachable Pb. Eurasian urban and industrial Pb is known to dominate the High Arctic atmosphere. A possible explanation for its negligible influence on northern lake sediments is that atmospheric Pb deposition at northern latitudes is reduced compared with southern regions and is small compared to local geological inputs.210Pb deposition declines with increasing latitude, apparently because of declining precipitation rates; stable Pb deposition may be similarly affected. Meteorological considerations and variations in the post-1900 Pb isotopic trajectories indicated that the predominant anthropogenic Pb source region in NW Hudson Bay was Eurasia, while in SE Hudson Bay, it was Canada and the United States, with a minor Eurasian component. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.

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  • P. M. Outridge

  • M. H. Hermanson

  • W. L. Lockhart

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