Identification of environmental lead sources and pathways in a mining and smelting town: Mount Isa, Australia
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Lead (Pb) concentrations and isotopic compositions from soils, dusts and aerosols from public land and residential lots adjacent to the copper and Pb mine and smelter at Mount Isa, Australia, were examined to understand the sources and risks of environmental Pb exposure. Urban soil samples contain elevated Pb concentrations (mean 1560 mg/kg), of which 45–85% of the Pb is bioaccessible. The Pb isotopic composition of surface soils (0–2 cm), aerosols and dusts (206Pb/207Pb, 208Pb/207Pb range: 1.049, 2.322–1.069, 2.345) are dominated by Pb derived from the Mount Isa Pb–zinc ore bodies. Underlying soil horizons (10–20 cm) have distinctly different Pb isotopic compositions (206Pb/207Pb, 208Pb/207Pb range: 1.093, 2.354–1.212, 2.495). Surface soil-, dust- and aerosol-Pb are derived predominantly from smelter emissions and fugitive mining sources and not from in situ weathered bedrock. Remediation strategies should target legacy and ongoing sources of environmental Pb to mitigate the problem of Pb exposure at Mount Isa
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