Remanence of lead pollution in an urban river system: A multi-scale temporal and spatial study in the Seine River basin, France

S. Ayrault, P. Le Pape, O. Evrard, C. R. Priadi, C. Quantin, P. Bonté, M. Roy-Barman

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29 Citations (Scopus)


Total lead (Pb) concentration and Pb isotopic ratio (206Pb/207Pb) were determined in 140 samples from the Seine River basin (France), covering a period of time from 1945 to 2011 and including bed sediments (bulk and size fractionated samples), suspended particulate matter (SPM), sediment cores, and combined sewer overflow (CSO) particulate matter to constrain the spatial and temporal variability of the lead sources at the scale of the contaminated Seine River basin. A focus on the Orge River subcatchment, which exhibits a contrasted land-use pattern, allows documenting the relation between hydrodynamics, urbanization, and contamination sources. The study reveals that the Pb contamination due to leaded gasoline that peaked in the 1980s has a very limited impact in the river nowadays. In the upstream Seine River, the isotopic ratio analysis suggests a pervasive contamination which origin (coal combustion and/or gasoline lead) should be clarified. The current SPM contamination trend follows the urbanization/industrialization spatial trend. Downstream of Paris, the lead from historical use originating from the Rio Tinto mine, Spain (206Pb/207Pb = 1.1634 ± 0.0001) is the major Pb source. The analysis of the bed sediments (bulk and grain size fractionated) highlights the diversity of the anthropogenic lead sources in relation with the diversity of the human activities that occurred in this basin over the years. The "urban" source, defined by waste waters including the CSO samples (206Pb/207Pb = 1.157 ± 0.003), results of a thorough mixing of leaded gasoline with "historical" lead over the years. Finally, a contamination mixing scheme related to hydrodynamics is proposed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4134-4148
Number of pages15
JournalEnvironmental Science and Pollution Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • Lead isotopes
  • Sediment cores
  • Sewer overflow
  • Suspended particulate matter
  • Urban lead


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