Cadmium pollution from zinc‐smelters up to four‐fold higher than expected in western Europe in the 1980s as revealed by alpine ice
Sammendrag: Estimates of past emission inventories suggest that toxic heavy metal pollution in Europe was highest in the mid‐1970s for lead and in the mid‐1960s for cadmium, but these previous estimates have not been compared to observations. Here, alpine ice‐cores were used to document cadmium and lead pollution in western Europe between 1890 and 2000. The ice‐core trends show that while lead pollution largely from leaded gasoline reached a maximum in ~1975 as expected, cadmium pollution primarily from zinc smelters peaked in the early‐1980s rather than in ~1965 and was up to fourfold higher than estimated after 1975. Comparisons between ice‐core trends, estimated past emissions, and state‐of‐the‐art atmospheric aerosol transport and deposition modeling suggest that the estimated decreases in cadmium emissions after 1970 were based on overly optimistic emissions reductions from the introduction of pollution control devices and other technological improvements.