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Environ Pollut. 2009 Oct;157(10):2670-7. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2009.05.003. Epub 2009 May 26.

Losses to the environment from the multilevel cycle of anthropogenic lead.

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State Key Laboratory of Water Environment Simulation, School of Environment, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, PR China.


As a component of a multi-level study of the anthropogenic lead cycle for year 2000 (52 countries, 8 regions, and the planet), we have estimated the lead flows in seven emission streams: tailings, slag, fabrication and manufacturing, dissipation from use, hibernation, landfilling, and dispersion following product discard. For every 1 kg of lead put into end use, 0.5 kg is lost to the environment, largely due to landfilling and dissipation from use. From the standpoint of the receiving media, 1/3 of the losses are to uncontained solids on land and 48% of the losses are to containment facilities on land. On a country basis, the largest losses occur in the United States and China, which between them are responsible for about 32% of total global lead losses. On a per capita basis, the highest lead losses occurred in the United Kingdom, Belgium-Luxembourg, and Ireland.

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