Fly Ash-Derived Strontium as an Index to Monitor Deposition from Coal-Fired Power Plants

Science  12 Jun 1981:
Vol. 212, Issue 4500, pp. 1267-1269
DOI: 10.1126/science.212.4500.1267


The combustion of western U.S. coals releases significant amounts of strontium, which is relatively enriched in the fine particles of fly ash. Fly ash-derived strontium is readily absorbed by agronomic and native plant species when incorporated in soil. The strontium-87 to strontium-86 ratios of fly ash and soils were significantly different, but similar ratios were found in fly ash and plants treated with fly ash. A technique for measuring and monitoring deposition from coal-fired power plants is inferred from the enhanced plant uptake of fly ash strontium and the similarity in the isotopic ratios of fly ash and treated plants.