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News Picks : Surveying a lead-laced ocean

By: Paul Guinnessy
28 February 2014

Science: A $300 million international collaboration has been working to document the presence of trace metals and other chemicals in the world’s oceans. Among its findings is a vast plume of lead located about 1000 meters deep in the Atlantic Ocean. That lead fingerprint is included in a map the group has created, called eGEOTRACES. It was constructed from nearly 30 000 water samples collected at 787 study sites over the past few years. Traces of other elements have also been found, including iron, nickel, and zinc. The lead plume is from water that was once at the ocean's surface and is slowly sinking into its depths. It represents a time capsule of the amount of lead the industrialized world emitted in the past, primarily from the burning of leaded fuel in cars. Lead contamination continues to be a problem in parts of Africa and Asia, where leaded gas is still being used.


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