Lead isotopic and chalcophile element compositions in the environment near a zinc smelting-secondary zinc recovery facility, Palmerton, Pennsylvania, USA

Michael E. Ketterer, Joe H. Lowry, John Simon, Kenneth Humphries, Mark P. Novotnak

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29 Scopus citations


The environment surrounding Palmerton, Pennsylvania is contaminated with Pb arising from primary Zn smelting and a process involving Zn recovery from electric arc steel furnace dusts. Lead isotope systematics have been used to distinguish primary Zn smelting Pb (206Pb/204Pb ~ 18.4-18.5) from electric arc furnace dust lead (206Pb/204Pb ~ 19.0-19.1). Primary Zn smelting is the dominant source of Pb in O2 horizon soils from undisturbed near-Palmerton locations, which contain up to 3570 ppm Pb and 782 ppm Cd. Soils from undeveloped near-Palmerton locations also exhibit unusually elevated concentrations of other sphalerite-derived chalcophilic elements (Se, Ag, In, Sb, Te, Au, Hg, Tl and Bi); indium concentrations of up to 17.0 ppm are observed therein. Residential soils and dusts from Palmerton contain Pb which is largely explainable via mixing of Pb from primary Zn smelting and electric arc furnace dusts. Approximately 80% of the Pb in airborne particulate matter sampled at Palmerton in 1991 is derived from electric arc furnace dusts, and atmospheric enrichment factors for Cu, Sb, Pb, and Bi are observed which confirm this major source contribution. Residential samples from a control location contain Pb which is less radiogenic than is found in Palmerton, and exhibit no unusual elevation in sphalerite elements. Lead source discrimination in the Palmerton environment via Pb isotopic and elemental constituents approaches result in parallel conclusions. (C) 2000 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-229
Number of pages23
JournalApplied Geochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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