Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 65, Issue 3–4, pp 281–291 | Cite as

Variations of trace element concentrations in red spruce tree rings

  • J. Zayed
  • S. Loranger
  • G. Kennedy


The potential of coniferous trees as biological indicators of heavy metal atmospheric pollution was investigated. In 31 municipalities of an industrialized region, samples of wood from the trunks of red spruce (Picea rubens) were taken to determine the spatial distribution of accumulated metals. Using the annual rings, these core samples were divided into 5-yr sections to determine temporal variations. The concentrations of Mg, Al, Ca, Mn, Fe, Cu, and Zn were measured by neutron activation analysis. All metals showed the highest concentrations in the most recent wood and the bark. For the wood older than 5 yr, Mn and Zn are stable with time, Mg and Ca decrease, while Al, Fe, and Cu appear to increase. A statistical analysis showed the municipalities with the highest variations in metal concentrations; it also revealed correlations in the fluctuations of several of the metals. As expected, trees in towns near metal refineries contain higher amounts of Mn, Fe, and Al. Large variations in metal concentrations, due to factors not totally understood, were observed. Thus, red spruce is not a sensitive bio-indicator of atmospheric metal pollution.


Metal Concentration Bark Neutron Activation Neutron Activation Analysis Core Sample 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Zayed
    • 1
  • S. Loranger
    • 1
  • G. Kennedy
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Occupational and Environmental MedicineUniversity of MontrealCanada
  2. 2.Energy Engineering InstituteEcole Polytechnique of the University of MontrealCanada

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