The comparative analysis was conducted in European Russia (Kola region), Western (Yamalo-Nenets district) and Eastern Siberia (Norilsk region). The study of 99 lakes was supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research.

According to researchers, increased concentrations of various chemical elements form in lake waters under the influence of air pollution. In particular, the lakes of the Norilsk and Kola regions show concentrations of nickel, cadmium, arsenic, antimony and selenium. The reason for this is the long-distance spread of smoke emissions from copper-nickel smelters. At the same time, the oil and gas industry leads to increased concentrations of vanadium, lead and molybdenum in water.

“The Arctic regions are particularly vulnerable to increased levels of metals in the environment. This can be explained by the low level of mass and energy exchanges in cold latitudes. There are short food chains and high sensitivity of living organisms to adverse influences, - said Tatiana Kremleva, Doctor of Chemistry, Director of the Institute of Chemistry at the University of Tyumen. "Despite the fact that the lakes are located far from direct sources of pollution, they accumulate elements from the environment and serve as indicators of metals diffused in the air."

The study covered 99 lakes, located at a distance of 0.4–20 square km from any direct source of pollution. Water sampling was carried out in late autumn during the water cooling period when at + 4 °C the chemical composition indices level out in terms of depth. The researchers have calculated the factors of water enrichment with elements. High concentrations of elements are explained not only by anthropogenic dispersion of elements, but also by changes in migration conditions and geochemical features of accumulation.

According to T. Kremleva, the highest mineralization and, at the same time, the enrichment of waters with lead was registered in Norilsk region. This is a consequence of the lakes being located close to the industrial zone. The content of a number of other elements (aluminum, cadmium, scandium and selenium) was the highest in the northern waters of the European Arctic zone.

“Despite the fact that the concentration of toxic elements does not exceed the standards for water quality, our materials have shown a global increase in the concentration of elements in land waters. These indicators need to be constantly monitored, since chemicals are involved in migration and can accumulate in living organisms and have toxic effects”, conclude the researchers.

Source: University of Tyumen, Department of Strategic Communications. Read the original article in Russian here.