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Lead isotopic compositions of selected coals, Pb/Zn ores and fuels in China and the application for source tracing

Lead (Pb) pollution emission from China is becoming a potential worldwide threat. Pb isotopic composition analysis is a useful tool to accurately trace the Pb sources of aerosols in atmosphere. In this study, a comprehensive data set of Pb isotopes for coals, Pb/Zn ores, and fuels from China was presented. The ratios of 206Pb/207Pb and 208Pb/206Pb in the coals were in the range of 1.114-1.383 and 1.791-2.317, similar to those from Europe, Oceania, and South Asia, but different from those from America (p < 0.01). The Pb/Zn ores had 206Pb/207Pb and 208Pb/206Pb in 1.020-1.183 and 2.088-2.309, less radiogenic than the coals. Leaded gasolines showed similar Pb isotopic compositions to Pb/Zn ores, with unleaded gasolines and diesels being mixed sources. The average Pb isotopic ratios of gasolines and diesels were significantly different (p < 0.01) from those of coals in China, leading to the possibility to discriminate Pb in fuels from in coals. Urban aerosols demonstrated similar Pb isotopic compositions to coals, Pb/Zn ores, and fuels in China. After removing the leaded gasoline, the Pb in aerosols is more radiogenic, supporting the heavy contribution of coal combustion to the atmospheric Pb pollution.


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