Use of lead isotopes to identify sources of metal and metalloid contaminants in atmospheric aerosol from mining operations

Omar I. Félix, Janae Csavina, Jason Field, Kyle P. Rine, A. Eduardo Sáez, Eric A. Betterton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mining operations are a potential source of metal and metalloid contamination by atmospheric particulate generated from smelting activities, as well as from erosion of mine tailings. In this work, we show how lead isotopes can be used for source apportionment of metal and metalloid contaminants from the site of an active copper mine. Analysis of atmospheric aerosol shows two distinct isotopic signatures: one prevalent in fine particles (<1. μm aerodynamic diameter) while the other corresponds to coarse particles as well as particles in all size ranges from a nearby urban environment. The lead isotopic ratios found in the fine particles are equal to those of the mine that provides the ore to the smelter. Topsoil samples at the mining site show concentrations of Pb and As decreasing with distance from the smelter. Isotopic ratios for the sample closest to the smelter (650. m) and from topsoil at all sample locations, extending to more than 1. km from the smelter, were similar to those found in fine particles in atmospheric dust. The results validate the use of lead isotope signatures for source apportionment of metal and metalloid contaminants transported by atmospheric particulate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-226
Number of pages8
JournalChemosphere
Volume122
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

Keywords

  • Dust and aerosol
  • Lead isotopes
  • MOUDI
  • Metal and metalloid contamination
  • Smelting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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