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Science / Medicine : Lead in Greenland Ice Plunges

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Scientists have discovered strong evidence that getting the lead out can really make a big difference. The amount of lead in the snow and ice of Greenland has dropped dramatically in the last 20 years, the scientists reported last week in Nature, indicating that the reduced use of lead as a gasoline additive is paying off environmentally.

Two decades ago researchers found that the concentration of lead in Greenland’s ice cap had risen 200-fold since ancient times. They theorized that the increase was caused by human activities, particularly the use of lead in fuels to increase the oxidation, or rate of burning, and reduce engine knocking.

In the new study, Claude F. Boutron of the CNRS Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Geophysique de l’Environment at St. Martin d’ Heres, France, and his colleagues found a 7.5-fold decrease in lead concentrations over the last 20 years.


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