Max Émile Kessler-Nadeau
ProjectTrace element contamination in the peat and vegetation of ombrotrophic peatlands located around a copper smelter in the Abitibi region
Ombrotrophic peatlands (bogs) solely receive their mineral and nutritional inputs from the atmosphere, hence these ecosystems can be used to reconstruct atmospheric deposition of pollutants. Atmospherically-transported trace elements (TE) are known to accumulate in peat and have limited lateral and vertical mobility. In an area with a high bog density and a known point-source emission, recording TE concentration in bogs can be a useful way to assess the degree of regional contamination. The city of Rouyn-Noranda, located in the Abitibi region of western Quebec and surrounded by numerous bogs, is an ideal area to study TE contamination in bogs. A well-documented source of TE emissions, the Horne copper smelter, is located within town limits. Its high levels of arsenic (As) and lead (Pb) emissions have been the source of concerns within the regional population because of health reasons, especially for children which are especially vulnerable to As and Pb exposure. The objective of this research is to evaluate the concentration of TE in bogs around Rouyn-Noranda, and to understand how TE deposited in peat are mobilized and/or stored by bog vegetation. This study present TE (As, Pb, cadmium, copper, zinc and nickel) concentration in five plant species typical of bogs, and in surface peat cores and interstitial water sampled in august 2019 from four bogs located within 25 kilometers of Rouyn-Noranda. In a further phase of the project, we will map TE contamination in bogs by sampling surface peat from a high number of bogs located within 50 kilometers from Rouyn-Noranda.