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pressrelease | 2016-11-28

Significant reduction of heavy metals in moss

In addition to taking up nutrients from the air, moss also picks up heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium and arsenic. On behalf of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, IVL has carried out a survey of metal levels in moss samples across Sweden in an effort to determine local variations. The latest count shows a significant reduction of lead, vanadium and nickel taking place between 2010 and 2015.

– There has been a significant reduction in the levels of lead, vanadium and nickel – somewhere in the order of 30 per cent. Levels vary across the country but on the whole the reduction is considerable. It is very positive that we are still seeing improvements in this respect, says Helena Danielsson, Project Manager at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute. Metal levels in mosses decreased across the board, with the exception of chromium and copper, the concentrations of which increased between 2010 and 2015. Moss inventories have been conducted every five years since 1975. Emissions of heavy metals from traffic, other combustion sources and industry have declined sharply since the 1990s, and air concentrations are now generally low. The deposition of metals across Sweden is higher in the south and decreases to the north, reflecting the inward transport of emissions from the continent. Due to emissions from local sources there are clearly elevated levels of certain metals in some areas of northern Sweden. In addition to the national inventory, IVL has conducted a number of local surveys that reveal in detail the levels of metal in moss. On behalf of the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, IVL has also conducted a pilot study with particular focus on organic substances in moss. For some of these substances the results show a link between pollutant levels and the geographical proximity to industry. For more information, please contact: Helena Danielsson, helena.danielsson@ivl.se, +46 (0)10-788 67 87 Gunilla Pihl Karlsson, gunilla.pihl.karlsson@ivl.se +46 (0)10-788 67 58 Lars Klintwall, Naturvårdsverket, lars.klintwall@naturvardsverket.se, +46 (0)10-698 12 82 Download the report here (In Swedish) Read more about metal levels in mosses here (In Swedish)

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Last updated: 2020-10-23

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

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