A comparison of the isotopic composition of lead in rainwater, surface vegetation and tree bark at the long-term monitoring site, Glensaugh, Scotland, in 2007

John G. Farmer, Lorna J. Eades, Margaret C. Graham, Joanna M. Cloy, Jeffrey R. Bacon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The lead concentrations and isotopic ratios (206Pb/207Pb, 208Pb/206Pb, 208Pb/207Pb) of 31 rainwater (September 2006–December 2007) and 11 surface vegetation (moss, lichen, heather) samples (October 2007) from the rural upland catchment of Glensaugh in northeast Scotland and of nine bark samples (October 2007) from trees, predominantly Scots pine, in or near Glensaugh were determined. The mean 206Pb/207Pb ratios for rainwater in 2006 and 2007 were similar to those previously determined for 2000 to 2003 at Glensaugh, yielding an average mean annual value of 1.151 ± 0.005 (± 1 SD) for the period from 2000, when an outright ban on leaded petrol came into force in the UK, to 2007. The mean 206Pb/207Pb ratio (1.146 ± 0.004; n = 7) for surface vegetation near the top (430–450 m) of the catchment was not significantly different (Student's t test) from that of rainwater (1.148 ± 0.017; n = 24) collected over the 12-month period prior to vegetation sampling, but both were significantly different, at the 0.1% (i.e. p < 0.001) and 1% (p < 0.01) level, respectively, from the corresponding mean value (1.134 ± 0.006; n = 9) for the outermost layer of tree bark. When considered in conjunction with similar direct evidence for 2002 and indirect evidence (e.g. grass, atmospheric particulates, dated peat) for recent decades in the Glensaugh area, these findings confirm that the lead isotopic composition of surface vegetation, including that of suitably located moss, reflects that of the atmosphere while that of the outermost layer of Scots pine bark is affected by non-contemporaneous lead. The nature and relative extent of the different contributory sources of lead to the current UK atmosphere in the era of unleaded petrol, however, are presently not well characterised on the basis of lead isotopic measurements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3704-3710
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume408
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - 1 Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes

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