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Assessment of Lead Contamination in Peatlands Using Field Portable XRF

Shuttleworth, E. L., Evans, M. G., Hutchinson, S. M., Rothwell, J. J.
Water, air, and soil pollution 2014 v.225 no.2 pp. 1844
X-radiation, equations, fluorescence, heavy metals, inventories, lead, logging, peat, peatlands, polluted soils, pollution, sediments, surveys, water content, United Kingdom
Ombrotrophic peatlands are highly sensitive to atmospheric heavy metal deposition. Previous attempts to quantify peatland lead pollution have been undertaken using the inventory approach. However, there can be significant within-site spatial heterogeneity in lead concentrations, highlighting the need for multiple samples to properly quantify lead storage. Field portable x-ray fluorescence (FPXRF) continues to gain acceptance in the study of contaminated soil, but has not thus far been used to assess peatland lead contamination. This study compares lead concentrations in surface peat samples from the South Pennines (UK) derived using (a) FPXRF in the field, (b) FPXRF in the lab on dried samples and (c) ICP-OES analysis. FPXRF field and lab data are directly comparable when field measurements are corrected for water content, both can be easily used to estimate acid extractable lead using regression equations. This study is a successful demonstration of FPXRF as a tool for a time- and cost-effective means of determining the lead content of contaminated peatlands, which will allow rapid landscape scale reconnaissance, core logging, surface surveys and sediment tracing.