The mobility of thallium in sediments and source apportionment by lead isotopes.

Author(s) Liu, J.; Yin, M.; Luo, X.; Xiao, T.; Wu, Z.; Li, N.; Wang, J.; Zhang, W.; Lippold, H.; Belshaw, N.Stanley; Feng, Y.; Chen, Y.
Journal Chemosphere
Date Published 2018 Dec 06

Thallium (Tl) is a very toxic heavy metal. As a part of ongoing investigations, the mobility, sources and fate of Tl were investigated for sediments from a watershed in the northern part of the Pearl River, South China, whose catchment has been seriously impacted by large-scale PbZn smelting activities onshore. A wide dispersion of severe Tl contamination was observed throughout the depth profiles. A modified IRMM (Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements, Europe) sequential extraction procedure of a selected depth profile uncovered an exceptionally high enrichment of Tl in geochemically-mobile fractions (i.e., weak-acid-exchangeable, reducible and oxidizable fractions), on average 5.94 ± 2.19 mg/kg (74.6% ± 5.1% of the total Tl content) not only in the surface sediments but also in deep sediments. The proximal quantitative source apportionment using Pb isotopic fingerprinting technique indicated that a majority (80%-90%) of Tl contamination along the depth profiles is anthropogenically derived from the PbZn smelting wastes. The results highlight the pivotal role of smelting activities in discharging huge amounts of geochemically-mobile Tl to the sediments down to approximately 1 m in length, which is quantitatively evidenced by Pb isotopic tracing technique. Lead isotopes combined with distribution of Tl and Pb contents identified a potential marker for a point source from the PbZn smelter in the river catchment, which also provides a theoretical framework for source apportionment of metal contamination in a larger river/marine system and in other sulfide mining/smelting areas likewise.

DOI 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2018.12.041
ISSN 1879-1298
Citation Chemosphere. 2018;219:864874.

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