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Environ Sci Technol. 2001 Mar 1;35(5):835-9.

Greenland snow evidence of large scale atmospheric contamination for platinum, palladium, and rhodium.

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Department of Environmental Sciences and Centre for Studies on Environmental Chemistry and Technology-CNR, University of Venice, Ca' Foscari, I-30123 Venice, Italy.


Since 1976 in the United States, Canada, and Japan, and later in other countries, the exhaust system of gasoline powered cars has been equipped with catalytic converters containing Pt and/or Pd and/or Rh. This has resulted in a very significant decrease in urban air pollution for various chemical species such as NOx, CO, and hydrocarbons. There has however been concern that their ever increasing use might lead to Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) becoming widely dispersed in the environment. From the analysis of Pt, Pd, and Rh in central Greenland recent snow and ancient ice using the ultrasensitive inductively coupled plasma sector field mass spectrometry technique, we show here that the concentrations of these metals in snow dated from the mid 1990s are indeed approximately 40-120 times higher than in ice dated from 7000 years ago. The fact that such an increase is observed far away from populated areas at a high altitude location indicates there is now a large scale contamination of the troposphere of the Northern Hemisphere for PGMs. Pt/Rh mass ratio in the most recent snow samples is close to the same ratio documented for catalytic converter exhausts in a recent study, which suggests that a large fraction of the recent increase for Pt and Rh might originate from automobile catalytic converters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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