Research Article

History of Atmospheric Lead Deposition Since 12,370 14C yr BP from a Peat Bog, Jura Mountains, Switzerland

Science  11 Sep 1998:
Vol. 281, Issue 5383, pp. 1635-1640
DOI: 10.1126/science.281.5383.1635

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A continuous record of atmospheric lead since 12,370 carbon-14 years before the present (14C yr BP) is preserved in a Swiss peat bog. Enhanced fluxes caused by climate changes reached their maxima 10,590 14C yr BP (Younger Dryas) and 823014C yr BP. Soil erosion caused by forest clearing and agricultural tillage increased lead deposition after 532014C yr BP. Increasing lead/scandium and decreasing lead-206/lead-207 beginning 3000 14C yr BP indicate the beginning of lead pollution from mining and smelting, and anthropogenic sources have dominated lead emissions ever since. The greatest lead flux (15.7 milligrams per square meter per year in A.D. 1979) was 1570 times the natural, background value (0.01 milligram per square meter per year from 8030 to 5320 14C yr BP).

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: shotyk{at}

  • Present address: EMMA Analytical, Elmvale, Ontario L0L 1P0, Canada.

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