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Strong evidence for the continued contribution of lead deposited during the 20th century to the atmospheric environment in London of today

Abstract : Although leaded gasoline was banned at the end of the last century, lead (Pb) remains significantly enriched in airborne particles in large cities. The remobilization of historical Pb deposited in soils from atmospheric removal has been suggested as an important source providing evidence for the hypothetical long-term persistency of lead, and possibly other pollutants, in the urban environment. Here, we present data on Pb isotopic composition in airborne particles collected in London (2014 to 2018), which provide strong support that lead deposited via gasoline combustion still contributes significantly to the lead burden in present-day London. Lead concentration and isotopic signature of airborne particles collected at a heavily trafficked site did not vary significantly over the last decade, suggesting that sources remained unchanged. Lead isotopic composition of airborne particles matches that of road dust and topsoils and can only be explained with a significant contribution (estimate of 32 ± 10 to 43 ± 9% based on a binary mixing model) of Pb from leaded gasoline. The lead isotopes furthermore suggest significant contributions from nonexhaust traffic emissions, even though isotopic signatures of anthropogenic sources are increasingly overlapping. Lead isotopic composition of airborne particles collected at building height shows a similar signature to that collected at street level, suggesting effective mixing of lead within the urban street canyon. Our results have important implications on the persistence of Pb in urban environments and suggest that atmospheric Pb reached a baseline in London that is difficult to decrease further with present policy measures.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03283301
Contributor : Eléonore Resongles Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Friday, July 9, 2021 - 8:01:58 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 10:48:03 AM

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Eléonore Resongles, V. Dietze, David Green, Roy M Harrison, Raquel Ochoa-Gonzalez, et al.. Strong evidence for the continued contribution of lead deposited during the 20th century to the atmospheric environment in London of today. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , National Academy of Sciences, 2021, 118 (26), pp.e2102791118. ⟨10.1073/pnas.2102791118⟩. ⟨hal-03283301⟩

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