, Volume 143, Issue 1, pp 379–385 | Cite as

Concentration and annual accumulation values of heavy metals in lake sediments: Their significance in studies of the history of heavy metal pollution

  • Ingemar Renberg


The first part of the paper discusses the significance of using either concentration or accumulation values for expressing the results of investigations of lake sediment cores aimed at studying the history of heavy metal pollution. Neither the values for heavy metal concentration in the lake sediment, whether expressed per gram dry sediment or per gram soluble (organic) sediment, nor the values for their total annual accumulation per unit area of the lake bottom, can, on their own, provide an accurate picture of past pollution conditions, but when considered in combination they render a fairly reliable and detailed interpretation. The second part of the paper deals with Pb, Cd and Hg analyses of cores of varved sediments from several lakes in N. Sweden. Pb and Cd pollution increased during the second half of the 19th century. In most lakes, Hg pollution seems first to have started during the 20th century. Marked increases in both concentration and accumulation of heavy metals took place during the 20th century. For recent decades, the estimated accumulation rates of heavy metals from anthropogenic sources are: Pb 0.5–1.5 µg cm−2 yr−1, Cd 15–30 ng cm−2 yr−1 and Hg 1–2 ng cm−2 yr−1, Higher values were recorded in lakes affected by local emissions.


palaeolimnology sediment heavy metal pollution 


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Copyright information

© Dr W. Junk Publishers 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ingemar Renberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecological BotanyUmeå universityUmeåSweden

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