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Measuring Aerosol and Heavy Metal Deposition on Urban Woodland and Grass Using Inventories of 210Pb and Metal Concentrations in Soil

Abstract

The deposition of aerosols to trees has proved very difficult to quantify, especially in complex landscapes. However, trees are widely quoted to be efficient scavengers of particles from the atmosphere, and a growing proportion of the pollutant burden in the atmosphere is present in the aerosol phase. In this study, the deposition of aerosols onto woodland and grass was quantified at a range of locations throughout the West Midlands of England. The sites included mature deciduous woodland in Edgbaston, and Moseley, and mixed woodland at sites within Sutton Park, a large area of semi-natural vegetation. Aerosol deposition to areas of grassland close to the woodland at each site was also measured. Detailed inventories of 210Pb in soils within the woodland and in grassland soils, together with concentrations in the atmosphere and precipitation, provided the necessary data to calculate the long-term (about 40 years) annual deposition of sub-micron aerosols onto grassland and woodland. The soil inventories of 210Pb under woodland exceeded those under grass, by between 22% and 60%, with dry deposition contributing 24% of the total input flux for grass and 47% for woodland. The aerosol dry deposition velocity to grassland averaged 3.3 mm s-1 and 9 mm s-1 for woodland. The large deposition rates of aerosols onto woodland relative to grass or other short vegetation (× 3), and accumulation of heavy metals within the surface horizons of organic soils, leads to large concentrations in soils of urban woodland. Concentrations in the top 10 cm of these woodland soils averaged 252 mg kg-1 for Pb with peaks to 400 mg kg-1. Concentrations of Cd averaged 1.4 mg kg-1, Cu, 126 mg kg-1, Ni 23 mg kg-1 and Zn 173 mg kg-1. The accumulated Pb in urban woodland soils is shown to be large relative to UK emissions.

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Fowler, D., Skiba, U., Nemitz, E. et al. Measuring Aerosol and Heavy Metal Deposition on Urban Woodland and Grass Using Inventories of 210Pb and Metal Concentrations in Soil. Water, Air, & Soil Pollution: Focus 4, 483–499 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1023/B:WAFO.0000028373.02470.ba

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  • aerosol
  • deposition
  • deposition velocity
  • heavy metals
  • 210 Pb
  • woodland