Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Environ Geochem Health. 1994 Dec;16(3-4):147-57. doi: 10.1007/BF01747911.

Factors controlling lead bioavailability in the Butte mining district, Montana, USA.

Author information

  • 1PTI Environmental Services, 2995 Baseline Road, 80303, Boulder, Colorado, USA.


Microprobe analyses of 38 soil and 5 mine-waste samples from Butte, Montana, demonstrated that the samples contain predominantly sulphide/sulphate and oxide/phosphates of lead (Pb)-bearing phases associated with mine waste. The sulphide/sulphate assemblage consists primarily of galena altering to anglesite and plumbojarosite, with secondary jarosite precipitating and rinding the Pb-bearing minerals. In addition, galena was encapsulated within pyrite or quartz grains. The oxide/phosphate assemblage consists of pH-neutral soils in which a plausible paragenetic sequence of PbO to Pb phosphates, PbMnO, or PbFeO is proposed, dependent on the activity of P, Mn, Fe, and Cl in the soil. In addition, Pb-bearing grains are occasionally armoured by the presence of a 1- to 3-(μm rind of authigenic silicate. The low solubility of the Pb-bearing minerals resulting from encapsulation in non-Pb-bearing reaction rinds may provide an explanation for the limited Pb bioavailability observed when Butte soils were fed to rats (Freemanet al., 1992). Further evidence of the lack of absorption of lead from these soils is provided by the results of a blood-Pb study indicating very low blood-Pb levels in Butte children. The lower bioavailability of Pb from mining sites, compared to smelting and urban environments, is also due to kinetic limitations that control dissolution rates of Pb-bearing solids relative to the residence time of soil in the gastrointestinal (Gl) tract. When the test soil was fed to New Zealand White rabbits, only 9% of the total Pb was solubilised in the stomach, and therefore available for absorption. Anin vitro assay, developed to estimate maximum available Pb from soil, demonstrates that ingestion of mine-waste-bearing soil results in limited Pb dissolution, and produces results similar to thein vivo testing.

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk