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Long-term changes of heavy metal and sulphur concentrations in ecosystems of the Taymyr Peninsula (Russian Federation) North of the Norilsk Industrial Complex

Abstract

The Norilsk industrial ore smelting complex (Taymyr Peninsula, Russian Federation) has significantly impacted many components of local terrestrial and aquatic environments. Whether it has had a major impact on the wider Russian Arctic remains controversial as studies are scarce. From 1986 to 2004, data on heavy metal (Cu, Ni, Zn, Hg, Cd and Hg) concentrations in fish (burbot), moss, lichens, periphyton, hydric soils and snow in and around Norilsk and the most northern parts of the Taymyr Peninsula were analysed. Very high concentrations of Cu (203 \(\upmu \)g L − 1 ± 51 \(\upmu \)g L − 1) and Ni (113 \(\upmu \)g L − 1 ± 15 \(\upmu \)g L − 1) were found in the water of the Schuchya River close to Norilsk. Heavy metal concentrations in burbot liver were highest in Lake Pyasino near Norilsk compared to other study regions that were >100 km distant. From 1989–1996, Cu (121 \(\upmu \)g L − 1 ± 39 \(\upmu \)g L − 1 SD), Zn (150 \(\upmu \)g L − 1 ± 70 \(\upmu \)g L − 1) and Ni (149 \(\upmu \)g L − 1 ± 72 \(\upmu \)g L − 1) snow concentrations were greatest in Norilsk, but were low elsewhere. By 2004, these concentrations had dropped significantly, especially for Cu—74 \(\upmu \)g L − 1 (±18.7 \(\upmu \)g L − 1 SD), Zn—81.7 \(\upmu \)g L − 1 (±31.3 \(\upmu \)g L − 1 SD) and Ni—80 \(\upmu \)g L − 1 (±18.0 \(\upmu \)g L − 1 SD). Norilsk and its surroundings are subject to heavy pollution from the Norilsk metallurgical industry but these are absent from the greater Arctic region due to the prevailing winds and the Byrranga Mountains. Pollution abatement measures have been made so further investigations are necessary in order to assess their efficiency.

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Correspondence to Richard D. Robarts.

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Zhulidov, A.V., Robarts, R.D., Pavlov, D.F. et al. Long-term changes of heavy metal and sulphur concentrations in ecosystems of the Taymyr Peninsula (Russian Federation) North of the Norilsk Industrial Complex. Environ Monit Assess 181, 539–553 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-010-1848-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-010-1848-y

Keywords

  • Heavy metal pollution
  • Lakes
  • Rivers
  • Soils
  • Burbot
  • Russian Arctic