Tree barks and attic dusts were examined as historical archives of smelter emissions, with the aim of elucidating the pathways of pollution associated with a plume of Sn and Pb contamination in top soils, found close to the former Capper Pass smelter, Humberside, UK. Samples were collected from three villages within the area of the contamination plume. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and bulk chemical analyses were used to assess particle type, number and deposition patterns. SEM analysis of dusts and bark revealed that Sn and Pb particles were present in samples from all three villages along with copper, zinc and iron particles. These were almost entirely <10 μm in diameter and occurred mostly as oxides, frequently forming clusters of sub-micron crystals. Samples further from the smelter contained considerably fewer particles. We present images of smelter derived Sn particles. Chemical assays of the barks and attic dusts demonstrated that concentrations of Sn, Pb, Cu, As, Sb and Cd diminished with increasing distance from the source. Strong positive correlations were found between Sn and Pb, As, Sb and Cd in the attic dusts. Enrichment factors (EF) were calculated for these trace elements based on topsoil element concentrations obtained from the soil survey of the study area. Decreases in these trace element concentrations and EF values with distance away from the smelter are consistent with trends found in the soil survey for Sn and Pb and are typical of deposition patterns around smelter stacks. The study demonstrates that tree bark and attic dusts can be effective archives of metal particulates deposited from large static emission sources.
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Journal of Environmental Monitoring
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