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In order to understand the fate of anthropogenic lead (Pb) pollution in boreal forest soils, and to predict future trends, it is important to know where in the soil the pollution Pb is accumulated and how large the pollution and natural Pb inventories are in different soil horizons. We combined stable Pb isotope (206Pb/207Pb ratios) and concentration analyses to study Pb in podzol profiles and mor samples from old-growth forest stands at seven sites distributed from southern to northern Sweden. Additional samples were taken from managed forests, and from an agricultural field, to give some idea of the effects of land-use. Pb concentrations are typically 60–100 μg g−1 dry mass in the mor layer in southern Sweden and about 30 μg g−1 in northern Sweden. Pb isotope analyses show that virtually all of this Pb is pollution Pb. The isotope composition also shows that pollution Pb has penetrated downwards between 20–60 cm in the forest soils. The total pollution Pb inventories vary between 0.7–3.0 g m−2 ground surface, with larger inventories in southern compared to northern Sweden. Although the highest Pb concentrations occur in the mor layer, the largest inventories of pollution Pb are found in the Bs-horizon. The limited investigation of Pb distribution and inventories in soils from managed forests did not point to any major difference compared to the old-growth forests. The agricultural field revealed, however, a completely deviating Pb profile with all pollution Pb evenly distributed in the 20 cm thick top-soil.

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