Nutrient and trace elements in soil and desert vegetation of southern Idaho

Environ Monit Assess. 1988 Jan;10(1):1-24. doi: 10.1007/BF00394252.


Concentrations of thirty elements were measured in strong-acid extracts of soil, sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata spp.) leaves and perennial grass from the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory (INEL) and two reference sites in southern Idaho. A bicarbonate-chelating extract of soil was used to estimate plant-available concentrations. The results provide baseline data prior to start-up of a coal-fired steam generation facility on the INEL and other developments in the region. In addition, existing impact from effluents from thirty years of a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility on the INEL was evaluated. Based on the spatial distribution of element concentrations, as well as comparison with references sites, we conclude that concentrations of Zn, and perhaps Ni, Cd, and V, are currently elevated around the fuel reprocessing facility. The spatial distribution of these elements is similar to that of (137)Cs in soil, a radionuclide which is emitted by the facility. Sagebrush and soil appear more responsive than perennial grass for long-term monitoring of element concentrations in this semi-arid environment.