Persistence of Metals in Soil and Selected Vertebrates in the Vicinity of the Palmerton Zinc Smelters
- G. L. Storm *,
- G. J. Fosmire and
- E. D. Bellis
Concentration of Cd, Pb, Zn, and Cu in soil and wildlife at the Palmerton zinc smelter site in eastern Pennsylvania were determined 6 yr after zinc smelting was terminated in 1980. Levels of the four metals were higher in litter (01 and 02 horizon) than in soil (A1 horizon), and the metals were at or near levels when the smelters were still in operation. Levels of metals in soil were highest at sites close to the smelters and decreased as distances from the smelters increased. The relation of decreasing amounts of metals in body tissues with increasing distance from the smelters also held true for amphibians and mammals. An exception to this relation was higher level of Cu in red-backed salamanders (Plethodon cinereus) captured ≈17 km downwind than those captured ≈12 km downwind. Levels of Zn, Pb, and Cu in liver, kidney, and muscle tissue of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) were not different (P > 0.05) which is reportedly considered an indication of environmental contamination. Levels of Cd in kidneys and liver of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) at Palmerton were five times higher than those for whitetailed deer collected 180 km southwest of Palmerton in southcentral Pennsylvania. The abnormal amounts of metals in the tissues of terrestrial vertebrates, and the absence or low abundance of wildlife at Palmerton indicated that ecological processes within 5 km of the smelters were markedly influenced 6 yr after zinc smelting was discontinued.
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