Long-term trends in heavy metal and metalloid levels in a Saskatchewan prairie soil
Global heavy metal and metalloid pollution has increased during the last few decades accompanied by marked increases in global population and a rapid increase in metal production. Since the mid-1990s, higher-than-desired levels of some metals have been found in crops, increasingly so. Atmospheric deposition might play a role in these developments. We compared soil samples derived from within a shed that was erected in the 1950s in a semiarid, agricultural location within the Brown soil zone of south-western Saskatchewan with soil samples from the adjacent open prairie, simulating environmental conditions then and now. With this setup, we were able to examine long-term changes in soil heavy metals and metalloid concentrations. We found that chromium, strontium, and vanadium have significantly increased between 1950 and 2007, while cobalt has significantly decreased during this same time frame. With regards to soil parameters, alkalinity and conductivity have increased. Differences in all other heavy metals and metalloids remained insignificant.
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