SREL Reprint #1905






Domy C. Adrianol and Mitsuo Chino2

1Biogeochemical Ecology Division, University of Georgia, Savannah River Ecology, Drawer E, Aiken, South Carolina 29802, USA
2Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Chemistry, The University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113, Japan


In this paper the main industrial uses of Pb, Ge, and Sn, their main sources in the environment, their behavior in ecosystems, their bioavailability and transfer in the food chain, their environmental health perspectives, and some environmental restoration technologies will be discussed. Since Ph has been used for hundreds of years it is ubiquitous in nature. Its anthropogenic sources and relevance in environmental quality and health are presumed to be more important than either Sn or Ge. The latter two can be considered as late comers in terms of their environmental importance. Most of the environmental sources of the latter two are from residues upon their industrial applications. In terms of their importance in environmental quality and health, lead poisoning is the most prevalent metal-related environmental disease in children. In the blood lead poisoning, young children appear to be the target of most concern. Although there are various sources of lead contributing to this disease, the main ones are those coming from the ingestion of pH laden dusts and paint chips. Garden foodstuff from areas contaminated with pH can also be a potentially risky exposure route to humans. In soil, pH is generally immobile and not bioavailable to plants, except in fairly acidic soil conditions. Consequently, phytotoxicity from Pb is seldom observed. There are meager data on the behavior and fate of Ge and Sn in the soil-plant system. However, of the few existing data available, Ge is known to be highly bioavailable in crops, including that of the rice plants. Thus, it appears that in terms of their bioavailability to plants, the trend is Ge > > Sn > Pb. In summary, while there is abundant information on the biogeochemical aspect of Pb, only scant information is available for Sn and Ge. In view of the increasing demands for the latter two elements in industry, and the likelihood of their dispersal in the environment, more environmental data should be highly beneficial.

SREL Reprint #1905

Adriano, D.C. and M. Chino. 1994. Biogeochemical aspects of lead, germanium, and tin. Main Group Metal Chemistry 17:101-120.

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