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J Environ Monit. 2004 Apr;6(4):322-6. Epub 2004 Feb 9.

Atmospheric heavy metals in tropical South America during the past 22,000 years recorded in a high altitude ice core from Sajama, Bolivia.

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Korea Polar Research Institute, Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute, Ansan, Seoul, Korea.


V, Co, Cu, Zn, As, Rb, Sr, Ag, Cd, Ba, Pb, Bi and U have been analysed by inductively coupled plasma sector field mass spectrometry in various sections of a dated snow/ice core drilled at an altitude of 6542 m on the Sajama ice cap in Bolivia. The analysed sections were dated from the Last Glacial Stage ( approximately 22,000 years ago), the Mid-Holocene and the last centuries. The observed variations of crustal enrichment factors (EFc) for the various metals show contrasting situations. For V, Co, Rb, Sr and U, EFc values close to unity are observed for all sections, then showing that these elements are mainly derived from rock and soil dust. For the other metals, clear time trends are observed, with a pronounced increase of EFc values during the 19th and 20th centuries. This increase shows evidence of metal pollution associated with human activity in South America. For Pb an important contribution was from gasoline additives. For metals such as Cu, Zn, Ag and Cd an important contribution was from metal production activities, with a continuous increase of production during the 20th century in countries such as Peru, Chile and Bolivia.

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