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Environ Sci Technol. 2001 Oct 1;35(19):3816-22.

Implications of platinum-group element accumulation along U.S. roads from catalytic-converter attrition.

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Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, USA.


Automobile catalytic converters are dispersing platinum-group elements (PGEs) Rh, Pt, and Pd into the environment (1-3). This paper represents the first detailed study to assess the PGE content of soils and grasses from U.S. roadsides. These soils were analyzed using cation exchange pretreatment and ultrasonic nebulizer-ICP-MS (4). Highway and several urban sites showed Pt abundances of 64-73 ng/g immediately adjacent to the roadside, with corresponding Pd and Rh abundances of 18-31 ng/g and 3-7 ng/g, respectively. All Pt and most Pd and Rh abundances are statistically above local background soil values. Platinum, Rd, and Rh show positive correlations with traffic-related elements (Ni, Cu, Zn, and Pb) but no correlations with nontraffic-related elements (Y, Ga). Iridium and Ru show no correlations with any of these trace elements. These PGE abundances are comparable to European studies (5-7) and are approaching concentrations that would be economically viable to recover. This study also demonstrates transport of Pt statistically above background more than 50 m from the roadside. Further study is necessary to see how mobile the PGEs are in roadside environments, but these initial data indicate only Pt is taken up by plants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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