Heavy metal pathways and archives in biological tissue

Elsevier B.V.
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Nuclear Instruments & Methods In Physics Research Section B-Beam Interactions With Materials And Atoms, 2002, 190 (1-4), pp. 439 - 444
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Nuclear milli and microprobes at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) were used to determine lead accumulation in native Australian plants and animals. Three species of eucalypt plants (Eucalyptus camaldulensis, Eucalyptus globulus and Eucalyptus lesouefii), one species of salt bush (Atriplex burbhanyana) and one species each of acacia (Acacia saligna) and estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) were investigated. Experimentally grown plants were subjected to a nutrient solution with a pH of 5 and spiked with a 200 lmol concentration of Pb. Lead concentrations in leaves of both E. globulus and E. camaldulensis showed an almost exponential decrease from the base of the main vein to the tip. Similarly, Pb concentrations decreased from the main vein to secondary veins. Concentrations of essential elements such as K, Fe, Zn and Br in the main and secondary veins were constant within experimental uncertainty. In contrast, the concentrations of Pb in the leaf veins of E. lesouefii were much lower and showed no systematic pattern. In stem and root samples the highest concentration of Pb was found in roots and stem of E. globulus and A. burbhanyana followed by E. camaldulensis. Some Pb was found in roots of A. saligna and only very low concentration in stem of the same plant. More detailed analysis of thin cross-sectional samples of roots and stem showed that Pb is present in much higher concentration in the growth area of the plant structure (i.e. meristemic region) and in relatively low concentration within the pith region and outer cortex. The osteoderms (dermal bones) of estuarine crocodiles, exposed to lead ammunition in food from the hunting activities of traditional Aboriginal owners, were sampled at two sites in Kakadu National Park, northern Australia. PIXE analyses showed enhanced, but relatively constant, ratios of Pb/Ca in the annual laminations.
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