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Lead Contamination Of An Old Shooting Range Affecting The Local Ecosystem--A Case Study With A Holistic Approach.

Minna-Liisa Rantalainen, Minna Torkkeli, R. Strömmer, H. Setälä
Published 2006 · Environmental Science, Medicine

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The aim of this case study was to uncover the consequences of lead pellet-derived heavy lead contamination at a cast-off shooting range in southern Finland, covering aspects from soil chemistry and biology up to ecosystem level. The observed changes in the soil properties of the most contaminated areas suggest that the contamination may be disturbing processes of decomposition and nutrient mineralisation. Also two functionally important groups of soil organisms, microbes (as analysed using the PLFA analysis) and enchytraeid worms, were negatively affected by the contamination. Furthermore, there was an indication of reduced pine litter production at the contaminated areas. On the other hand, lead contamination appears not to have affected pine growth or soil-dwelling nematodes and microarthropods, and the general outlook of the whole ecosystem is that of a healthy forest. Thus, the boreal forest ecosystem studied as a whole appears to bear strong resistance to contamination, despite negative effects of lead on many of its components. This resistance may result from e.g. low bioavailability of lead, avoidance of the most contaminated soil horizons and microsites by the organisms, and functional redundancy and development of lead-tolerant populations amongst the organisms. The relative importance of these factors and the mechanisms behind them will be investigated in forthcoming studies.
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