GEOCHEMICAL CHARACTERIZATION OF STEEL PLANT EMISSIONS BY LICHEN BIOMONITORING
To assess the degree and nature of air pollution and relative contributions of the steel plant and other potential sources (i.e., traffic and coke plant) to the atmospheric toxic metal load in Middletown, we collected lichen and atmospheric particulate matter (PM). We analyzed these samples for their elemental and Pb isotopic compositions by Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES), Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), and Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS), respectively.
Lichen samples have elevated metal concentrations relative to the background. The highest and the lowest Pb concentrations are observed in samples collected within 2 Km North of the steel plant and in samples collected from green areas and parks located 0.1 Km East and 4 km Northeast of the steel plant, respectively. Cr, Ni, Pb, Mn, and REE concentrations decrease with increasing distance from the steel plant. An atmospheric PM sample collected adjacent to the steel plant exhibits the highest Fe, Pb, Co, and As concentrations. The coke plant PM contains the highest V, Cr, and Mn; and the highest Cu, Mo, Cd, and Zn concentrations are measured in traffic PM. 206Pb/204 Pb values in lichen samples range from 18.59 to 19.08 and 208Pb/204 Pb values range from 38.24 to 38.70. Three endmember mixing between the steel plant, background, and less radiogenic traffic related emissions explains the compositional variations in lichen samples.