ABSORPTION OF HEAVY METALS IN WILD BERRIES AND EDIBLE MUSHROOMS IN AN AREA AFFECTED BY SMELTER EMISSIONS

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Abstract

The total concentrations of nickel, copper, chromium, strontium, arsenic, lead, cadmium and cobalt were measured in berries and mushrooms, as well as manganese and iron in mushrooms. The study area (about 3500 km2) is situated on the border of the northern taiga and tundra forests (68–69°N) and is affected by emissions from the extensive Ni-Cu smelter complex at Monchegorsk, Kola Peninsula, NW Russia. Part of the study area, extending along the railway line used for transporting apatite concentrate, contains elevated quantity of strontium. Berries of Vaccinium vitis-idaea (82 samples), Vaccinium myrtillus (28), Rubus chamaemorus (42) and Empetrum hermaphroditum (40) and mushrooms of Leccinum auantiacum (47 samples), Leccinum scabrum (32), Russula vesca (25), Lactarius torminosus (8), Lactarius trivialis (9), Suillus luteus (10) and Xerocomus subtomentosus (20 specimens) were collected from 98 locations during 1987–1992. The nickel and copper concentrations in the berries, and nickel in mushrooms, correlated satisfactorily with the corresponding metal concentrations in the soil. The berries and mushroons growing over an area of at least 3000 km2 around the smelter complex are unsuitable for human consumption due to the elevated nickel concentrations caused by the smelter dust emissions. The berries and mushrooms gathered in the studied polluted forests were found to be contaminated by nickel by a factor of 15–30 times (berries) and 15–40 times (mushrooms) more than the background level. Increased levels of strontium were found close to the railway line. The concentrations of all the other metals in the studied area did not exceed sanitary standards.

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