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Ecotoxicol Environ Saf. 2002 Jul;52(3):273-9.

Heavy metal (Pb, Zn, Cd, Fe, and Cu) contents of plant foliage near the Anvil Range lead/zinc mine, Faro, Yukon Territory.

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Environmental Studies Program, College of Science and Management, 3333 University Way, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, V2N 4Z9, Canada.


Mining and processing of lead (Pb)/zinc (Zn) ore at the Anvil Range mine occurred near the town of Faro in the Yukon Territory, Canada, for approximately 30 years, beginning in 1968. A study was undertaken to examine whether the mining activities had left a detectable "footprint" on the environment in the way of heavy metal phytoaccumulation. Foliage of three native plant species was sampled: bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum), Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), and willow (Salix sp.), at approximately 0.25, 2.5, 12, 30, and 200 (control) km distant from the mill (ore-processing facility at the mine). Foliage samples were oven-dried, wet- or dry-ashed, and analyzed for metal content using ICP-AES. In addition to Pb and Zn, the primary ore constituents, copper (Cu), iron (Fe), and cadmium (Cd), were also assayed. As expected, foliar Pb and Zn concentrations were elevated in plants at the sites closest to the mill, i.e., 0.25 and 2.5 km from the mine facility. Copper and Fe, both essential nutrients for plants, were also elevated in foliage at the sites closest to the mill, but not to a level that would be of concern. Foliar Cd levels were highest in Salix relative to the other species but were not affected by proximity to the mill. Results suggest that Ledum may be the best indicator of high environmental concentrations of Pb, while Salix may be the best indicator of elevated Zn and Cd.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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