Metal malady

Published: Wednesday 30 April 1997

when it comes to heavy metals pollution in central Europe, slovakia takes the top spot. A study of contaminated mosses has revealed that the toxic level of metals including cadmium and lead is much higher in Slovakia and neighbouring parts of southern Poland than elsewhere.

Mosses make ideal monitors for measuring air pollution as they readily accumulate heavy metals. Researchers from the International Graduate School in Zittau, Germany, collected samples of moss from more than 800 sites in Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia. They found that concentrations of cadmium in Slovakian moss were often higher than one part per million (ppm) compared with less than 0.3 ppm in most of Germany. Levels of lead exceeded 50 ppm, which was more than three times the typical German figure.Copper and zinc levels were also found to be unusually high. Researchers have blamed chemicals and metal-smelting industries and leaded petrol for the pollution in this region.

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