Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 29, Issue 5, pp 405–412 | Cite as

Spatial patterns of tungsten and cobalt in surface dust of Fallon, Nevada

  • Paul R. SheppardEmail author
  • Robert J. Speakman
  • Gary Ridenour
  • Michael D. Glascock
  • Calvin Farris
  • Mark L. Witten
Original Paper


Spatial patterns of tungsten and cobalt are described for surface dust of Fallon, Nevada, where a cluster of childhood leukemia has been ongoing since 1997. In earlier research, airborne tungsten and cobalt was shown to be elevated in total suspended particulates in Fallon. To fine-tune the spatial patterns of tungsten and cobalt deposition in Fallon, surface dust was collected in a grid pattern within as well as outside of Fallon to establish background concentrations of metals. In surface dust, tungsten and cobalt show sharp peaks (934 ppm and 98 ppm, respectively) within Fallon just north of highway 50 and west of highway 95. These two peaks overlap spatially, and given the grid pattern used for collecting surface dust, the source area of these two airborne metals can be pinpointed to the vicinity of hard-metal industry located north of highway 50 and west of highway 95. Fallon is distinctive in west central Nevada because of high airborne tungsten and cobalt particulates, 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 tungsten and cobalt particulates.


Fallon Nevada Childhood leukemia Tungsten Cobalt Surface dust chemistry 



Angelika Clemens assisted with fieldwork, and Nicole Little, Tessa Schut, and Jon Dake assisted with sample preparation and analysis of surface dust samples. INAA measurements were conducted at the University of Missouri Research Reactor Center. This project was supported in part by the Gerber Foundation and the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation, neither of which is otherwise responsible for any content of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul R. Sheppard
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert J. Speakman
    • 2
  • Gary Ridenour
    • 3
  • Michael D. Glascock
    • 4
  • Calvin Farris
    • 1
  • Mark L. Witten
    • 5
  1. 1.Laboratory of Tree-Ring ResearchUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  2. 2.Museum Conservation InstituteSmithsonian InstitutionSuitlandUSA
  3. 3.FallonUSA
  4. 4.Research Reactor CenterUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  5. 5.Department of PediatricsUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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