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Abstract

Heavy metals and radioactive compounds are potentially hazardous substances for plants, animals and humans in the Arctic. A good knowledge of the spatial variation of these substances in soil and primary producers, and their sources, is therefore essential. In the samples of lichen Thamnolia vermicularis, Salix polaris and Cassiope tetragona, and the soil samples collected in 2014 in Svalbard near Longyearbyen, the concentrations of the following heavy metals were determined: Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb and Hg, as well as the activity concentrations of the following: K-40, Cs-137, Pb-210, Pb-212, Bi-212, Bi-214, Pb-214, Ac-228, Th-231 and U-235 in the soil samples. The differences in the concentrations of the analytes accumulated in the different plant species and soil were studied using statistical methods. Sea aerosol was indicated as the source of Pb, Hg, Cs-137, Pb-210 and Th-231 in the studied area. A relatively high concentration of nickel was determined in the biota samples collected near Longyearbyen, compared to other areas of Svalbard. It was supposed that nickel may be released into the atmosphere as a consequence of the local coal mining around Longyearbyen.

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