RESIDUAL CADMIUM AND LEAD POLLUTION AT A FORMER SOVIET MILITARY AIRFIELD IN TARTU, ESTONIA

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Abstract

This paper presents data on the levels and dynamics of cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) concentration in the plants, soil, and groundwater of the landing corridor and airfield of a former Soviet military air base in Estonia, immediately at the end of its 40-year service in 1992 and over the following 8 yr. In 1991–92 we found high Cd concentrations in the meadow plants Trifolium pratense and Dactylis glomerata (up to 56 mg kg−1). In 1993, the Cd concentration had dropped to 0.12–0.19 mg kg−1, and stabilized in 1997–2000 at 0.04 mg kg−1. Cd concentration in plants decreased significantly with increasing distance from the landing strip. Elevated Cd concentration (0.012 mg L−1) was found in the fuel of the TU-22M (Backfire) strategic bombers. In 1991 and 1993, leaded fuel influenced the mean Pb concentration in plants (1.8–4.2 mg kg−1). Average Pb concentration in both topsoil and the 30–40 cm soil horizon decreased between 1991 and 2000 from 28 to 6.5 and from 13.5 to 4.3 mg kg−1, respectively. Cd concentration in the topsoil of the landing corridor showed a significant increase between 1991 and 1993 (0.07–0.3 and 0.3–1.2 mg kg−1, respectively), but stabilized later on the level of 0.04 mg kg−1. The concentrations of both Pb and Cd in the soil were higher closer to the fuel bunkers. Current assessment of the movement of these metals from the vegetation to the soil and to groundwater is linked to potential leaching to the surrounding environment.

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