Using lichen chemistry to assess airborne tungsten and cobalt in Fallon, Nevada

Paul R. Sheppard, Robert J. Speakman, Gary Ridenour, Mark L. Witten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


This paper describes the use of lichen chemistry to assess airborne tungsten and cobalt in Fallon, Nevada, where a cluster of childhood leukemia has been on going since 1997. Lichens and their rock substrates were collected from Rattlesnake Hill within Fallon as well as from four different rock outcrops located north, east, south, and west of Fallon and at least 20 km away from the town center. In the lichens themselves, W and Co are significantly higher within Fallon than in the combined control site outside of Fallon. In the rock substrates of the lichens, no differences exist in W and Co. The W and Co differences in lichens cannot be attributed to substrate geochemistry. Fallon is distinctive in west central Nevada for high airborne W and Co, and given its cluster of childhood leukemia, it stands to reason that additional biomedical research is in order to test directly the leukogenicity of combined airborne W and Co.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-518
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2007



  • Childhood leukemia
  • Cobalt
  • Fallon, Nevada
  • Lichen chemistry
  • Tungsten

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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