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Accumulation of heavy metals in stemwood of forest tree plantations fertilized with different sewage sludge doses

Abstract

The levels of heavy metals that accumulated in stemwood of mature trees grown for 20 years in a plantation in an abandoned peat quarry in areas that were fertilized with different amounts of domestic sewage sludge (180, 360, and 720 Mg ha−1 on a dry basis) were compared with trees grown in a reference nonfertilized area. Included in the study was a hybrid poplar (Populus tremula × Populus tremuloides) developed for use as an energy crop, three local tree species and one introduced tree species. The concentrations of Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb and Zn in the stemwood of the trees grown in the fertilized and nonfertilized fields were determined, and found to be significantly lower than their respective concentrations in the soil. Cd and Cr were found only in several wood samples at concentrations close to the limits of detection or qualification; therefore, they were not analyzed further. A correlation analysis suggested that 75% of the correlations between the concentrations of heavy metals in the stemwood and the concentrations in the soil were negative. The ability of trees to accumulate the metals from soil in most cases decreased for Cu and Ni; however, the correlations were not as clear for Pb and Zn. The following sequence for the levels of heavy metals found in the stemwood of the analysed trees was Zn > Pb > Ni > Cu > (Cr, Cd). The results of this study showed that the levels of heavy metals in the studied wood would not exceed the permitted limits of heavy metal pollution in the air and ash when used for energy production.

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Correspondence to Marius Praspaliauskas.

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Corresponding editor: Chai Ruihai.

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Praspaliauskas, M., Pedisius, N. & Gradeckas, A. Accumulation of heavy metals in stemwood of forest tree plantations fertilized with different sewage sludge doses. J. For. Res. 29, 347–361 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11676-017-0455-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11676-017-0455-y

Keywords

  • Forest tree plantation
  • Accumulation factor
  • Saturation limit
  • Biosolids
  • Heavy metals
  • Long-term field experiments
  • Biofuels