Environmental Geochemistry and Health

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 1841–1851 | Cite as

On the rubidium and lithium content and availability in the sub-arid south-eastern Mediterranean: potential health implications

  • Fyodor S. Kot


Rubidium and lithium are rather rare elements in environmental research, despite their affiliation with a group of chemically active metals and the abundance of Rb in the environment. A growing body of evidence, although controversial, has indicated that both elements possess unique essential and neurophysiological characteristics in biota and humans. Both elements may concentrate in soil and vegetation of sub-arid environments. We investigated the content and (potential) availability of Rb and Li in the soils and natural waters of Galilee, the Coastal Plain, and the northern Negev of Israel. A newly developed chromatographic technique for the separation of truly dissolved Rb and Li compounds has been applied. High concentrations of Rb, together with high values of the potentially vital Rb-to-K ratio, were found in the soils, the soil solutions, rainwater, throughfall water, and the plant litter leachates, but not in the surface and spring waters. This may indicate a sequestration of Rb in the local soils and a semi-closed Rb turnover in the soil–plant system with a major input from sea aerosols. Low Li bulk and available concentrations were determined in all the natural compartments. Possible implications of such specific environmental features on the local population health were discussed.


Rubidium Lithium Sub-arid soils Vegetation Natural waters Availability Health 



I am grateful to Dr. Kunio Fujiwara, Department of Applied Chemistry and Biotechnology, Chiba University, Japan, for methodological help and for supplying us with the IDA-fibre. I am cordially thankful to Prof. Avi Shaviv for his valuable notes and criticism on the manuscript. Dr. Malik Kochva has undertaken many analyses for this work. Both are from the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Technion-IIT. Victor Kislovsky from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Technion-IIT assisted me with patience with the fieldwork. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the anonymous reviewers whose scrupulous work and substantial notes and suggestions brought about improvements to the manuscript. The editing of English was done in Proof-Reading Service, Letchworth, UK. The Technion Research & Development Foundation (Haifa, Israel) and Misrad-haKlita (Jerusalem, Israel) supported the work.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares no competing financial interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Civil and Environmental EngineeringTechnion–Israel Institute of TechnologyHaifaIsrael

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