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Test of Tree Core Sampling for Screening of Toxic Elements in Soils from a Norwegian Site

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Tree core samples have been used to delineate organic subsurface plumes. In 2009 and 2010, samples were taken at trees growing on a former dump site in Norway and analyzed for arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), copper (Cu), nickel (Ni), and zinc (Zn). Concentrations in wood were in averages (dw) 30 mg/kg for Zn, 2 mg/kg for Cu, and <1 mg/kg for Cd, Cr, As and Ni. The concentrations in wood samples from the polluted test site were compared to those derived from a reference site. For all except one case, mean concentrations from the test site were higher than those from the reference site, but the difference was small and not always significant. Differences between tree species were usually higher than differences between reference and test site. Furthermore, all these elements occur naturally, and Cu, Ni, and Zn are essential minerals. Thus, all trees will have a natural background of these elements, and the occurrence alone does not indicate soil pollution. For the interpretation of the results, a comparison to wood samples from an unpolluted reference site with same species and similar soil conditions is required. This makes the tree core screening method less reliable for heavy metals than, e.g., for chlorinated solvents.
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Keywords: heavy metal; monitoring; plant uptake; polluted; soil; wood

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Environmental Engineering,Technical University of Denmark, 2800 Kgs.Lyngby, Denmark 2: Bioforsk Soil and Environment Division, Fredrik A Dahlsvei 20, N-1430 Ås, Norway 3: National Environmental Research Institute,Aarhus University, Frederiksborgvej, 3994000Roskilde, Denmark

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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